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India and Pakistan Exchange Fire Along Kashmir Border, Following a Year of Escalation


India and Pakistan Exchange Fire Along Kashmir Border, Following a Year of Escalation

Click to see full-size image

On January 1st, two Indian soldiers were killed at the Line of Control (LoC) between India and Pakistan in Kashmir, an Indian military spokesperson said.

The two soldiers were killed when Indian forces were attempting to intercept an alleged Pakistani infiltration attempt.

The search operation had been launched following information about the movement of suspected militants, the official said.

Less than a week earlier, the Pakistani military reported that India had violated the ceasefire, and as a result of a clash several soldiers, and a civilian died.

Pakistan’s Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) said the soldiers had been killed while responding to cross-border fire from the “enemy” and that the forces had damaged an Indian post, killing 3 Indian soldiers.

Pakistan said it lost 2 soldiers and 1 was wounded.

In response, India said that Pakistan had, in fact, breached the ceasefire in north Kashmir’s Baramulla district. The Pakistani soldiers had allegedly opened fire, killing one Indian soldier and one civilian.

The Indian army added that Pakistan had resorted to heavy firing from small arms and “also fired mortars and used artillery fire.”

Tensions escalated between the two nuclear-armed countries after February 14, when 40 Indian security personnel were killed in a bombing attack in Kashmir.

The situation was exacerbated even worse when India stripped Jammu and Kashmir of their special status on August 5th, 2019.  Pakistan claimed that the move was aimed at purging Muslims from the region and both countries were on an apparent warpath for days. The tensions de-escalated, but the situation remains tense.

In a report, the Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS), a local human rights group, said there were “mass arrests, torture, killings, use of excessive force, harassment, and intimidation” after the abrogation of Article 370.

“The year witnessed at least 366 killings in different incidents of violence,” said the report, which said there were “extrajudicial executions of at least 80 civilians, besides killings of 159 militants and 129 armed forces” in 2019.

Among the 80 civilians killed in 2019, 69 were killed after August 5. Twelve of those killed in 2019 were women and eight children, according to the JKCCS report.

“Besides becoming victims of extrajudicial executions, children also faced illegal and unjust detentions, ill-treatment, including torture, at the hands of armed forces during detention,” said the report.

In 2019, tensions have seen a rise between the two countries, with both of them focusing troops along the Kashmir LoC.

India, in November 2019, announced that it was planning to test its new 3,500 km range K-4 nuclear missile.

“As per plans, the DRDO will carry out test-firing of the K-4 nuclear missile from an underwater platform off the Vishakhapatnam coast on Friday. During the trial, the DRDO will test the advanced systems in the missile system,” government sources said.

India and Pakistan Exchange Fire Along Kashmir Border, Following a Year of Escalation

The Agni II night test. Click to see full-size image

This report took place just days after India tested its nuclear-capable surface-to-surface medium range missile – the Agni II. The ‘Agni-II’ missile has a strike range of 2,000 km and is an intermediate range ballistic missile. It has already been inducted into the armed forces.

The Indian Air Force carried out the successful firing of BrahMos surface-to-surface missiles from a mobile platform in October to check the IAF’s capability to hit targets with “pin-point” accuracy at targets close to 300 KM.

Around the same time, on November 5th 2019, Pakistan reportedly tested a 650 km range surface-to-surface nuclear-capable ballistic missile – the Shaheen I.

The Shaheen-1 missile is capable of delivering all types of warheads up to range of 650 KMs, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) tweeted.

“The launch was aimed at testing operational readiness of Army Strategic Forces Command (ASFC) ensuring Pakistan’s credible minimum deterrence,” it said.

The Director General Strategic Plans Division, Commander Army Strategic Forces Command, senior officers from Strategic Plans Division, Army Strategic Forces Command, scientists and engineers witnessed the training launch.

“Troops displayed a high standard of proficiency in handling and operating the potent weapon system, ensuring Pakistan’s credible minimum deterrence,” the ISPR said.

Pakistan successfully test-fired nuclear-capable surface-to-surface ballistic missile ‘Ghaznavi’ with a range of up to 290 kms on August 29th, days after India revoked Jammu and Kashmir’s special status on August 5th.

Thus, the arms race is already a fact, and 2020 begins with the usual reports of ceasefire violations.




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