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India warns of more surgical strikes against Pakistan

Army chief says more strikes will be carried out if necessary, across Line of Control dividing disputed region of Kashmir

13.01.2017
India warns of more surgical strikes against Pakistan

By Abdul Gani

GUWAHATI, India

India’s army chief on Friday said that more "surgical strikes" would be carried out in the Pakistani part of Kashmir "if the situation warrants", local media reported.

"Surgical strikes [in last Sept.] were a demonstration of what we can do if the situation warrants. Will do it again if needed," General Bipin Rawat was quoted as saying by The Times of India during a press conference in New Delhi.

In his first conference after taking office on Dec. 31, Rawat said that the cease-fire violations had recently come down across the Line of Control (LoC) dividing the disputed region.

"But if not then, we may resort to such surgical strikes again," he added.

In late Sept. 2016, the Indian military said it carried out surgical airstrikes along the LoC based on "specific and credible" input of terrorist infiltration plans.

"Based on receiving specific and credible input that some terrorist teams had positioned themselves at launch pads along Line of Control to carry out infiltration and conduct terrorist strikes inside Jammu and Kashmir and in various metros in other states, the Indian Army conducted surgical strikes at several of these launch pads to pre-empt infiltration by terrorists," the Director-General of Military Operations, Lt Gen Ranbir Singh was quoted as saying by the Times of India on Sept. 29.

"The operations were focused on ensuring that these terrorists do not succeed in their design to cause destruction and endanger the lives of our citizens," Singh reportedly said, adding that almost 20 infiltration attempts were foiled by the army at or close to the LoC in 2016.

Tensions between the two nuclear rivals have increased since India accused Pakistan of having links to gunmen who killed 19 soldiers in Indian-held Jammu and Kashmir in Sept. 2016.

Pakistan has denied the charge and accuses India of repressing pro-independence protests that started in the disputed Himalayan region in July 2016 when more than 100 Kashmiri civilians were shot dead by Indian forces and thousands others were injured.

Kashmir, a Muslim-majority Himalayan region, is held by India and Pakistan in parts and claimed by both in full. A small sliver of Kashmir is also held by China.

The two countries have fought three wars – in 1948, 1965 and 1971 – since they were partitioned in 1947, two of which were fought over Kashmir.

Since 1989, Kashmiri resistance groups in Indian-held Jammu and Kashmir have been fighting against Indian rule for independence, or for unification with neighboring Pakistan.

More than 70,000 people have reportedly been killed in the conflict so far, most of them by the Indian Armed forces. India maintains more than half a million troops in the disputed region.

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