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Tensions escalate in Kashmir following Islamist attack

TENSIONS continued to escalate in Kashmir today after four Indian soldiers were killed during a gun battle with Pakistani-based Islamist militants.

The incident took place in Pulwama district where more than 40 Indian paramilitaries were killed in a suicide attack on a coach that was taking them back to their barracks on Thursday.

Both attacks have been claimed by the jihadist Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), an Islamist fundamentalist group founded in 2000 which wants to split Kashmir from India and merge it into Pakistan.

One civilian and two jihadists were also believed to have been killed as Indian soldiers searched the area in the wake of the attacks.

Today’s incident raises tensions between the two nuclear powers.

Last week India recalled its ambassador from Pakistan after accusing Islamabad of complicity in the bomb attack.

The Indian Ministry of External Affairs demanded Pakistan “ceases forthwith all support and financing to terror groups operating from areas under their control.”

JeM is alleged to have links to Pakistan’s intelligence services with its attacks thought to be an attempt to prevent the strengthening of official relations between the countries.

Muslim-majority Kashmir has been contested by both India and Pakistan since independence in 1948.

Two wars have been fought for control of the region. 

Last week’s attack was the deadliest on Indian soldiers in almost 30 years of Islamist insurgency.

Operations continue across Kashmir to flush out the militants with at least 20 people reportedly detained yesterday. 

Pakistan Foreign Office spokesman Mohammad Faisal confirmed that the country’s senior diplomat in India had been recalled today.

“We have called back our high commissioner in India for consultations. He left New Delhi this morning,” he said in a statement.

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