India vows to teach Pakistan "lesson" over Kashmir militant attack

India and Pakistan were embroiled in a war of words on Monday as ministers in New Delhi vowed to teach the country's neighbour "a lesson" following a weekend attack on a military base which they say Islamabad is behind.

The Indian army has claimed militants from the Pakistan-based Islamist militant group Jaish-e-Mohammed were behind Sunday's attack at its facility, which left 18 Indian soldiers dead. All four attackers were also killed.

Indian ministers blamed Pakistan for backing the militants who carried out the strike near the Line of Control, a military frontier which divides the disputed Kashmir region into two parts, one administered by India and the other by Pakistan.

India will teach Pakistan "a lesson" over the attack and called on the United Nations to declare it a "terrorist state", senior minister M Venkaiah Naidu said after a high-level meeting chaired by Premier Narendra Modi on the issue.

"Pakistan is aiding, abetting, funding, training terrorists. It has become their state policy. It has proved to be a rogue nation," Naidu, India's information and broadcasting minister, said.

"They want to to cripple Indian economy. They want to weaken our country ... The government of India will give a proper reply to the perpetrators of this crime," he added.

Junior foreign minister VK Singh seemed to dispel talk of a war-like situation, saying Delhi "could not act on an emotional level".

In Islamabad, Pakistani Defence Minister Khawaja Asif warned that any attempt by India to increase tensions after the Kashmir attack would have repercussions.

"By blaming Pakistan for Uri [the site of the attack] and any attempt to escalate tension to deflect attention from state terrorism in Kashmir will prove expensive for Indians," Asif said in a statement.

Pakistan has noted with "serious concern the recent spate of vitriolic and unsubstantiated statements emanating from Indian civil and military leadership" after the attack, advisor on foreign affairs Sartaj Aziz said.

"Pakistan categorically rejects the baseless and irresponsible accusations being levelled by senior officials in Prime Minister Modi’s government," said Aziz.

"It was particularly deplorable that the Indian minister chose to blame Pakistan for the incident even prior to conducting proper investigation."

Details of Modi's meetings were not disclosed but broadcaster NDTV said the Indian leader had given a nod to "diplomatically isolate" Pakistan at international forums. India could also raise the attack at the upcoming United Nations General Assembly.

Initial investigations carried out by the army into the attack revealed Pakistani links, according to a report. It said that weapons and food with Pakistani markings were seized from the militants and GPS trackers that they carried showed they had started from Pakistan.

India has long blamed Islamabad for backing militant groups based on its territory for cross-border attacks and fomenting the unrest in Kashmir. Pakistan denies the allegations.

The nuclear-armed neighbours have fought at least two wars over Kashmir since their independence from Britain in 1947. Sunday's attack was among the worst attacks on the Indian army in the insurgency-hit region in recent years.

Seventeen were killed during the three-hour-long attack and another soldier succumbed to injuries on Monday. India paid homage to the slain soldiers at a wreath-laying ceremony before the bodies were flown back to their homes.

Last update: Mon, 19/09/2016 - 14:30

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