India summons Pakistan’s envoy after ‘border attack’

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NEW DELHI: India summoned Pakistan’s envoy in New Delhi Wednesday to protest what she said was the killing of two soldiers and the reported beheading of one of them in a border attack.

The two Indian soldiers died after a firefight erupted in disputed Kashmir around noon Tuesday, according to the Indian army.

Promising that New Delhi’s response would be “proportionate”, Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid said late Tuesday that senior government and military officials would decide on Wednesday a course of action over the “ghastly” incident.

In a first step, his ministry summoned Pakistani’s High Commissioner (ambassador) Salman Bashir to lodge a complaint about the reported clash.

“The Pakistan envoy has been summoned to meet with the Foreign Secretary,” ministry spokesman Syed Akbaruddin told AFP.

Indian authorities claimed the body of one of the soldiers was “badly mutilated”, while newspapers and a military source speaking to AFP indicated that he had been decapitated.

The bodies of both men have been brought to an army hospital in Rajouri in northern India where a post-mortem will confirm the extent of their injuries and whether one of them was beheaded, army spokesman Rajesh Kalia told AFP.

One of the sergeants is from the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, while the other is from the central state of Madhya Pradesh, he added.

“Pakistan army’s action is highly provocative. The way they treated the dead body of the soldiers, Indian soldiers, is inhuman,” Defence Minister A K Antony told reporters on Wednesday.

Khurshid said the attack, which followed a deadly exchange along the border at the weekend in which a Pakistani soldier was killed, was designed to wreck an already fragile peace process.

Relations had been slowly improving over the past few years following a rupture after the 2008 attacks on Mumbai, which were blamed by India on Pakistan-based militants.

In Islamabad a Pakistan military spokesman denied what he called an “Indian allegation of unprovoked firing”, calling the Indian account of Tuesday’s clash “propaganda to divert the attention of the world from Sunday’s raid on a Pakistani post”.

Pakistan’s army says Indian troops crossed the Line of Control on Sunday and stormed a military post in an attack that left a Pakistani soldier dead and another injured. India has denied crossing the line.

“What will be done, in which manner, is something we will take a call on tomorrow,” Khurshid, facing his first crisis since assuming the job in late October, told the NDTV news channel on Tuesday.

“It is absolutely unacceptable, ghastly, and really, really terrible and extremely short-sighted by their part,” he added.

The clash took place in Mendhar sector, 173 kilometres west of the city of Jammu.

Army sources said there had been further exchanges along the de facto border on Tuesday night which caused no damage and the border was calm on Wednesday morning.

“The Line of Control is steady and stable,” Brigadier G. S. Sangha, one of the army’s most senior officers in Kashmir, told AFP.

A ceasefire has been in place since 2003 along the Line of Control in Kashmir, but it is periodically violated by both sides.

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