Indian police said Monday they had retrieved bodies of four suspected Pakistani militants who were killed during a long-running shootout with the Indian Army over the weekend along the disputed border that divides Kashmir between the two countries.
Three Indian soldiers were also killed in the 37-hour encounter that erupted Saturday after Indian border guards opened fire to foil an infiltration bid along the Line of Control (LoC) in Nowgam sector amid heightened bilateral tensions, police said.
“We have retrieved the bodies of all four militants from the shooting side near Sangam post on Monday. We are still trying to ascertain their identities,” Superintendent of Police Ghulam Jeelani told BenarNews.
Troops from the Indian and Pakistani armies have engaged in firing since India’s Army accused its counterpart of beheading two Indian soldiers in what it called unprovoked aggression early this month.
Over 2,000 people have been evacuated from Indian villages situated along the LoC, the de facto border that is witnessing “intense cross-border shelling,” police said, adding that the violence had claimed at least one civilian life.
“A war-like store, including four automatic riddles, was recovered from the militants, who appear to be operatives of either Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) or Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM). A search and sanitization operation launched Sunday evening was called off on Monday,” Jeelani said. LeT and JeM are Pakistan-based militant outfits.
“Two militants and two soldiers were killed in on Saturday itself. The operations was suspended Saturday night and resumed Sunday, when two more militants were gunned down and a soldier lost his life,” he added.
Meanwhile, anti-India protests continued in Srinagar, the capital of Indian Kashmir, as demonstrators threw stones at Indian security forces.
Diplomatic ties between India and Pakistan touched a new low after India accused the Pakistani Border Action Team (BAT) of crossing the LoC and beheading two Border Security Force (BSF) guards in the Poonch district on Indian Kashmir on May 1.
About 200 suspected militants are waiting on the launch pads situated across the LoC in Pakistan-administered Kashmir to infiltrate Indian territory, India’s Deccan Herald said, quoting official sources.
Kashmir, which is claimed in its entirety by India and Pakistan, has been grappling with a separatist insurgency that has claimed over 70,000 lives since the late 1980s.
India and Pakistan have fought three full-blown wars – two of them over the ownership of the Himalayan region of Kashmir – since the partition of the Indian sub-continent in 1947.