Pakistan says troops killed by ‘non-state actors’

Three soldiers are killed and one is wounded in the Rakhchikri area of Pakistani-administered Kashmir, army says.

India launches surgical strikes against militants at border with Pakistan, in Kashmir
The two neighbours have fought two of their three wars since independence in 1947 over Kashmir [File: EPA]

Islamabad, Pakistan – Pakistani officials say “non-state actors” crossed the de-facto border between India and Pakistan in the divided region of Kashmir to kill three Pakistani soldiers.

The troops were killed on Monday in the Rakhchikri area of Pakistani-administered Kashmir, the military said in a brief statement at the time.

One Pakistani soldier was also wounded.

On Tuesday, a Pakistani foreign ministry statement claimed that Indian forces initiated firing across the Line of Control (LoC) in order to provide cover for unidentified “non-state actors” to place an improvised explosive device to kill the three soldiers.

LoC is the demarcation line between the separate Indian- and Pakistani-administered portions of disputed Kashmir. 

“The unprovoked ceasefire violations by Indian occupation forces in the Rakhchikri sector on the (LoC) … provided a cover for the planting of IEDs by non-state actors, resulting in the martyrdom of three soldiers and injuring another,” said the statement.

The Pakistani foreign ministry “categorically rejected” some reports in the Indian news media that Indian soldiers had crossed the boundary.

“The false claims by India about the alleged cross-LoC adventures are a figment of their imagination and counterproductive for peace and tranquillity on the LoC,” said the foreign ministry statement.

Nonetheless, the statement is a rare admission by Pakistani officials that armed fighters – whether Indian soldiers or “non-state actors” – crossed the heavily militarised LoC.

Despite a 2003 ceasefire, India and Pakistan regularly trade fire across the LoC. India regularly accuses Pakistan of aiding fighters in crossing the LoC to attack Indian targets.

Pakistan denies the charges.

In September of last year, India claimed to have launched “surgical strikes” on bases used by armed groups in Pakistan-administered Kashmir to fight Indian security forces.

Pakistan denied any Indian soldiers were ever on Pakistani-administered soil.

The two nuclear-armed neighbours have fought two of their three wars since independence in 1947 over Kashmir, which both countries claim in full.

The incident on Monday came after India said four of its soldiers had been killed by Pakistani fire in the Rajouri area of Indian-administered Kashmir on Saturday.

In 2017, Pakistan has claimed India opened fire across the LoC more than 1,300 times, killing at least 54 civilians, according to data released by the foreign ministry.

The previous year, Pakistan said India violated the ceasefire 382 times, marking a significant increase from the previous year.

India maintains that Pakistan has violated the ceasefire at least 724 times this year, killing 12 civilians and 17 security personnel, according to local media reports.

Source: Al Jazeera