Soldiers killed in army base attack in Indian-administered Kashmir

india-jammu-kashmir-dras

India’s Home Affairs Minister is calling Pakistan a terrorist state, but stops short in blaming the country for the deaths of 17 soldiers who were killed when militants attacked an army camp in Indian-administered Kashmir early Sunday morning.

Four attackers were also killed in the ensuing gunfight, which lasted several hours.

The attack happened in the garrison town of Uri, about 102 kilometers from Srinagar, the capital of Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir. The town is near the de facto border between India and Pakistan in the disputed region.

“Pakistan is a terrorist state and it should be identified and isolated as such,” said Rajnath Singh, India’s Home Affairs Minister, Sunday on Twitter. He said that the people involved in the attack were, “highly trained, heavily armed and specially equipped.”

Singh added he was “deeply disappointed with Pakistan’s continued and direct support to terrorism and terrorist groups.”

However he did not offer any facts to support his assertion, nor did he say whether he believes Pakistan was involved in the attack.

CNN has reached out to Singh and a government spokesman for comment.

Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs responded to India’s allegation with a swift denial. Spokesman Nafees Zakaria told CNN, “This is a very irresponsible and baseless allegation that he has leveled against Pakistan which we outrightly reject.”

He blamed India for fostering Kashmir’s unrest.

“India is desperately looking for ways to deflect the world’s attention from the situation in India-occupied Kashmir,” Zakaria said. “Pakistan investigates and does not give knee jerk reactions whenever any such incident takes place. We reject these claims.”

It’s unclear which militant group carried out the attack, which came as tensions in Indian-controlled Kashmir at are an all-time high.

Sunday’s attack was one of worst strikes on an army base in Kashmir since militant attacks began in 1989.

India’s Home Affairs Minister Rajnath Singh called an emergency meeting with his senior officials and announced via Twitter that he was postponing visits to Russia and the United States to deal with the situation.

Indian-administered Kashmir has been gripped by unrest for more than two months, with protests that have prompted authorities to issue curfews and lock down large parts of the region.

Demonstrations began in July after the Indian army killed Burhan Wani, the commander of the separatist group Hizbul Mujaheedin. Police described the 21-year-old’s killing as a major success in their campaign against separatist militants, but angry mobs protested against his death and attacked police stations, police posts and government buildings.

At least 85 people have been killed in the past 72 days in clashes between protesters and security forces.

On Saturday, thousands of people defied a curfew to attend the funeral of Nasir Shafi, an 11-year-old boy found dead on Friday on the outskirts of Srinagar.

Residents told CNN that Shafi’s body was riddled with pellet gun wounds, which Indian police and security forces have been using to disperse protesters. Police said the boy was hit with pellets during clashes between the two groups.

A doctor at Srinagar’s SMHS hospital said 756 people have been hit in the eyes by pellets over the past 72 days.

“Thirty-eight received pellet injuries in both eyes,” Dr. Tariq Qureshi, head of the hospital’s Ophthalmology department said.

CNN’s Sheena Jones, Rich Phillips & Chieu Luu in Hong Kong contributed to this report

By Mukhtar Ahmad and Rich Phillips