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Central & South Asia

Indian soldier in Kashmir kills fellow troops

Five soldiers dead after member of counterinsurgency force opens fire in military camp before killing himself.

Last updated: 28 Feb 2014 03:34
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Thursday's incident in Kashmir's Ganderbal district is the latest in a long line of troop attacks on colleagues [AFP]

A soldier armed with two automatic weapons has killed five of his colleagues as they slept before killing himself in Indian-administered Kashmir, police and the army say.

The soldier, who was on night duty, walked into the barracks where the soldiers were resting early on Thursday and opened fire.

The attack occurred at a military camp in Ganderbal district, 20km north of the region's main city of Srinagar.

"The soldier ran amok, killing five others before shooting himself dead in the camp," Lieutenant-Colonel Narinder Nahar Joshi, an Indian army spokesman, told AFP news agency.

Another soldier who was injured in the attack recalled the events to police before being shifted to a military hospital in Srinagar for treatment, local superintendent of police Shahid Mehraj told AFP.

A military inquiry and a separate police inquiry were under way to determine what caused the incident at the camp in Safapora village, including whether the soldier was suffering from stress.

"We don't know what triggered this incident, but we are investigating thoroughly so that such an incident is not repeated in future," Mehraj said, adding police have seized two automatic rifles used by the soldier.

"We are also talking to soldiers who were awake at the time of shooting."

The killer was a member of a counterinsurgency force called the Rashtriya Rifles posted to the heavily militarised Kashmir region and charged with tracking down suspected fighters.

Divided region

Indian forces have since 1989 been fighting up to a dozen armed groups seeking independence or the merger of the territory with Pakistan.

The fighting has left tens of thousands of people, mostly civilians, dead.

Kashmir is divided and administered separately by India and Pakistan but claimed in full by both.

The two countries have fought two wars since independence from Britain in 1947 over the region.

Hundreds of angry villagers clashed with police on Tuesday near the de facto border with Pakistan following suspicions that security forces shot dead seven civilians they mistook for fighters.

Deadly attacks on colleagues have occurred in the past in Kashmir, including one in 2011 when an Indian soldier killed four of his comrades after an altercation in a camp in Anantnag district.

Members of the security forces are often denied leave for long periods during tough counterinsurgency operations.

In recent years the Indian army has set up helplines and yoga classes to help soldiers deal with stress.

The Rashtriya Rifles is made up of tens of thousands of soldiers drawn from the ranks of the army.

Their personnel are shifted from one internal conflict to another. Similar incidents have also been reported from India's insurgency-racked northeast, with a soldier gunning down six of his comrades in Manipur state in 2009.

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Source:
AFP
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