Gun battles raged on the border between India and Pakistan in Kashmir yesterday, two days after a deadly raid on an Indian army base that New Delhi blamed on Pakistan-based militants.
Eighteen soldiers died in Sunday’s attack, which was the worst of its kind to hit the region in more than a decade and has increased hostility between the nuclear-armed neighbours.
Pakistan has rejected India’s claims as “unfounded and premature.”
US Secretary of State John Kerry expressed concern over the violence in Kashmir, urging both sides to reduce tensions.
“The secretary reiterated the need for Pakistan to prevent all terrorists from using Pakistani territory as safe havens,” the State Department said after Kerry met with Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in New York.
Colonel Rajesh Kalia said there had been a “ceasefire violation” near Uri, where Sunday’s attack took place, but gave no further details.
Uri is near the Line of Control (LoC) which divides the territory.
Kalia said troops in the same area had blocked an attempt by suspected militants to cross the LoC into Jammu and Kashmir.
“A group of 10-12 terrorists attempted to infiltrate the Uri sector. They were intercepted and the infiltration bid was foiled,” he said.
The Press Trust of India news agency said 10 suspected militants had been killed in the incident but this could not immediately be confirmed.
Another army spokesman said they were battling an unknown number of militants in Nowgam sector, south of Uri, who were trying to sneak into the Indian side on the heavily militarised border.
“This second infiltration bid (in Nowgam) by an unknown number of terrorists has also been foiled and the operation is on.
“Unfortunately we have lost one soldier there,” Col Manish Kumar said, adding there was no information about any other casualties.
India regularly accuses Pakistan of arming and sending rebels across the border to launch attacks on its forces.
Occasional violations of a 2003 ceasefire between the neighbours are not uncommon.
The last was reported on September 6 this year and caused no casualties.
Yesterday’s exchange was the first since Sunday’s attack, which the Indian army has blamed on Pakistan-based militant group Jaish-e-Mohamed.
The same outfit was implicated in an audacious assault on an Indian Air Force base in Pathankot in Punjab in January. It left seven soldiers dead and dashed hopes of a revival of peace talks, which have been on ice ever since.
In Muzaffarabad in Pakistan-ruled Kashmir, a Pakistani colonel said there was no firing along the border.
Both sides were on high alert and strengthening their positions, he said.
Pakistani Foreign Office spokesman Nafees Zakaria reiterated that no shot had been fired by Pakistan, after Indian television channels said troops of both countries had exchanged fire.
“There seems to be some activity across the border but there has been no activity from our side, not one shot fired from here,” he said.
India claims Pakistan is helping smuggle fighters across the border, but says the number of infiltration attempts has dropped over the last decade.
Meanwhile, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) yesterday took over the investigation into the attack on the army camp in Uri.
A woman lights candles during a vigil for the soldiers who were killed in Sunday’s attack at an army base in Uri, at a school in Jammu, yesterday.