Militants kill 17 Indian soldiers in attack
MILITANTS killed 17 soldiers during a pre-dawn ambush on an army base in Indian-administered Kashmir yesterday, a major attack in the Himalayan region already reeling from weeks of deadly unrest.
The heavily armed militants snuck across the de facto border with Pakistan before launching the raid on the infantry base housing hundreds of soldiers in Uri, west of the region’s main city of Srinagar, officials said.
Four militants were killed in the attack that saw tents and other temporary shelters accommodating the soldiers catch fire, the army said in a statement.
“The encounter resulted in heavy casualties. We salute the sacrifice of 17 soldiers who were martyred in the operation.”
Large numbers of soldiers are stationed at Uri after finishing their tour of duty in the volatile region, where several rebel groups have been fighting troops for decades for independence of the region or its merger with Pakistan.
Residents of nearby Uri town saw smoke billowing from the base after dawn and heard continuous rounds of heavy gunfire, while army helicopters circled the base overhead.
The region has been in the grip of deadly unrest for more than two months, with residents clashing almost daily with security forces in the worst violence since 2010.
At least 87 civilians have been killed and thousands injured in the protests against Indian rule, sparked by the killing of a popular rebel leader in a gun battle with soldiers on July 8.
Yesterday’s raid comes after militants launched an audacious attack on an Indian air force base that left seven soldiers dead in January.
India blamed that attack in the northern state of Punjab on a Pakistani-based militant group and it came days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi embarked on a landmark visit to Pakistan, raising hopes of improved ties. –
An Indian paramilitary trooper stands guard during a curfew in Lal Chowk in Srinagar. Indian-administered Kashmir has been under a curfew since protests broke out over the death of a popular young rebel leader in July.