Al Jazeera takes a deep look into the human side of a six decade long – almost forgotten – political conflict.
|The troubled Kashmir region has seen lower levels of violence this summer [Reuters]|
An Indian army lieutenant and a dozen suspected fighters have been killed in a clash along the de facto border that splits Kashmir between India and Pakistan, the Indian army said.
The fighting erupted on Saturday in the northern Gurez district when a group of “heavily-armed militants tried to infiltrate” Indian administerd Kashmir from the Pakistani side of the divided territory, the army said.
“There were 12 terrorists who tried to cross over in a boat … and the Kishen Ganaga River is a defacto line of control in some areas and during the gun battle six fell in the river and six others were killed on the shore,” Lt. General JS Brar, the Indian army spokesman, told Al Jazeera.
He said that the six who fell into the river during the gun fight, would not have survived “the fast torrent and the depth of this river” and would have inevitably drowned.
Brar said that the operation was significant because it was the biggest attempt to infiltrate this year.
“More (fighters) will try over the next few months … but we are monitoring the area closely and we will kill them”
“They are desperate to infiltrate because they have not been able to infiltrate over the past few months. Their identities have not been confirmed but they are likely to foreigners, in other words, Pakistani. And though there are a couple of groups operating in the valley and we do not want to pre-empt and speculate which group they might have been involved with”.
India says it regularly intercepts fighters sneaking into Indian Kashmir to fight New Delhi’s rule in the Himalayan region.
Pakistan denies providing military aid to the rebellion and says it only extends moral and diplomatic support to what it calls an independence struggle by Kashmiris.
India and Pakistan have fought two of their three wars over Muslim-majority Kashmir, which each country holds in part but claims in full.
The insurgency against New Delhi’s rule has left more than 47,000 people dead since 1989, according to an official count.
The violence has sharply decreased since India and Pakistan started a peace process in 2004. But over the past month, the Indian army has accused fighters of making repeated bids to infiltrate.