India lashes Pakistan after deadly Kashmir encounter

Wed Jan 9, 2013 3:13pm EST
 
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By Ashok Pahalwan

JAMMU, India (Reuters) - India denounced Pakistan on Wednesday over a firefight in the disputed territory of Kashmir in which two Indian soldiers were killed, but the nuclear-armed rivals both appeared determined to prevent the clash escalating into a full diplomatic crisis.

India summoned Pakistan's envoy in New Delhi to lodge a "strong protest", accusing a group of Pakistani soldiers it said had crossed the heavily militarized Line of Control (LoC) in Kashmir of "barbaric and inhuman" behavior.

The body of one of the soldiers was found mutilated in a forested area on the side controlled by India, Rajesh K. Kalia, spokesman for the Indian army's Northern Command, said. However, he denied Indian media reports that one body had been decapitated and another had its throat slit.

"Regular Pakistan troops crossed the Line of Control ... and engaged the Indian troops who were patrolling the sector," India's Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement after Pakistan's high commissioner to India had been called in.

"Two Indian soldiers were killed in the attack and their bodies subjected to barbaric and inhuman mutilation."

India's foreign minister sought to cool tensions, however, saying that exhaustive efforts to improve relations could be squandered if the situation was not contained.

"I think it is important in the long term that what has happened should not be escalated," Salman Khurshid told a news conference. "We cannot and must not allow the escalation of any unwholesome event like this."

"We have to be careful that forces ... attempting to derail all the good work that's been done towards normalization (of relations) should not be successful," he added, without elaborating on who such forces might be.   Continued...

 
An Indian Army personnel places a wreath on a coffin containing the body of a colleague at a garrison in Rajouri district, about 170 km (105 miles) northwest of Jammu, January 9, 2013. India slammed Pakistan on Wednesday over a rare firefight in the disputed territory of Kashmir in which two Indian soldiers were killed, but the spat between the nuclear-armed rivals appeared unlikely to escalate into a full-blown diplomatic crisis. REUTERS/Stringer