The Mercury

India steps up patrols after attack

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NEW DELHI: India stepped up patrols along its de facto border with Pakistan yesterday after gunmen killed 17 soldiers at a nearby army base, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s administra­tion weighed its response to an attack India blames on its neighbour.

The assault, in which four commando-style gunmen burst into the brigade headquarte­rs in Uri at 5.30am on Sunday, was among the deadliest in Kashmir and has sharply ratcheted up tension between the nuclear-armed rivals.

Army officials said three critically wounded had been flown to a hospital in New Delhi. Most of the dead and wounded suffered severe burns after their tents and temporary shelters caught fire from incendiary ammunition while they were sleeping.

Indian Home Minister Rajnath Singh has called Pakistan “a terrorist state” and army Lieutenant-General Ranbir Singh said troops were “ready to give a befitting response”, without elaboratin­g.

Pakistan denies any role and accused India of apportioni­ng blame before it had properly investigat­ed.

Kashmir, divided between India and Pakistan since 1947, is at the heart the neighbours’ seven decades of mutual distrust. Two of their three wars since independen­ce from Britain have been fought over the region.

India’s options to hit back at Pakistan appeared limited, as they carry the risk of escalation. India held back from military retaliatio­n when a Pakistan-based group killed 166 people in a 2008 rampage through Mumbai for fear of igniting a broader conflict and opted instead for a diplomatic offensive to isolate Islamabad.

The US, UK and France have con-

 ?? PICTURE: REUTERS ??
PICTURE: REUTERS

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