By Michael Cruickshank, @MJ_Cruickshank
In the early hours of this morning local time, Indian forces launched a significant attack across the Line of Control in the disputed Kashmir region. According to the Pakistani military, this attack killed at least 2 Pakistani soldiers and wounded several others, while Indian media reported significantly higher casualty figures.
India claims the attack was a ‘surgical strike’ aimed at targeting a number of ‘launching pads’ for alleged terrorist forces. A number of units took part in the attack, with at least some sources reporting that Indian armed forces were inserted by helicopter and covered by artillery firing from within Indian-controlled Kashmir.
“During these counter-terrorist operations, significant casualties have been caused to the terrorists and those who are trying to support them,” claimed Indian Director General of Military Operation (DGMO) Lt Gen Ranbir Singh
“The operations aimed at neutralizing the terrorists have since ceased. We do not have any plans for further continuation of the operations. However, the Indian armed forces are fully prepared for any contingency that may arise,” he continued.
For its part, Pakistan denied that the attack was “surgical” in nature, and confirmed that its forces had returned fire on the Indian attack,
“There has been no surgical strike by India, instead there had been cross border fire initiated and conducted by India which is existential phenomenon. As per rules of engagement same was strongly and befittingly responded by Pakistani troops,” Pakistan’s military claimed in a statement.
Furthermore, Pakistan’s military suggested that at least 6 Indian troops may have been killed in the attack – a claim denied by India, which reported no casualties in the operation.
While this operation was clear aggressive action by India, it follows two significant militant attacks on Indian positions in Kashmir, one in Uri which killed 19 Indian soldiers, and another in Poonch which killed a policeman. Following today’s ‘surgical strike’ by India, its military mentioned these two militant attacks (which the country blames on Pakistan) as a part of a justification for this.
With India claiming that it will pursue no further actions, it will now be left to see how Pakistan chooses to respond. Initial reports seem to indicate they are already downplaying the scale of the attack, meaning a large military response is unlikely. Nonetheless each cross border incident increases tensions yet further along the Line of Control, and makes an all out war increasingly more likely.