Four Indian army personnel were killed Monday in a gunfight with militants in the Pulwama district of Indian-administered Kashmir, just days after a car bomb was detonated in the same area, killing nearly 40 paramilitary soldiers.
Two militants died in Monday’s shootout, Rajesh Kalia, a spokesman for the Indian army, told CNN.
A joint Indian operation was launched by the army and police, based on intelligence on the presence of militants in the area. The cordon and search operation is still ongoing, Kalia added.
India has accused neighboring Pakistan of being behind the spike in violence, claiming it has “incontrovertible evidence” that the country had a “direct hand” in last week’s bomb blast — the deadliest attack on Indian security forces since the beginning of an insurgency in the disputed territory that began in the late 1980s.
“We demand that Pakistan stop supporting terrorists and terror groups operating from their territory and dismantle the infrastructure operated by terrorist outfits to launch attacks in other countries,” an Indian Foreign Ministry statement said following Thursday’s attack.
Amid escalating tensions between the two nuclear armed countries, Mohammad Faisal, spokesperson for Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, announced Monday that the country had recalled Sohail Mahmood its high commissioner for India.
Pakistan has vehemently denied having a role in the attacks. “We have always condemned acts of violence anywhere in the world,” a Pakistan Ministry of Foreign Affairs statement said. “We strongly reject any insinuation by elements in the Indian media and government that seek to link the attack to Pakistan without investigations.”
Kashmir, a largely mountainous region located between India and Pakistan, has had a tumultuous history.
The region has been bitterly contested by both India and Pakistan following the partition of the two countries in 1947, leading to three wars and numerous other skirmishes.
The attack last week comes more than two years after armed militants entered an army base in the garrison town of Uri, about 63 miles (102 kilometers) from Srinagar — killing 18.
Separatist violence in the region has killed more than 47,000 people since 1989, although this toll doesn’t include people who have disappeared due to the conflict. Some human rights groups and nongovernmental organizations put the death toll at twice that amount.