India army chief threatens Pakistan over Kashmir killings

Mon Jan 14, 2013 10:15am EST
 

By Sanjeev Miglani

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India's army chief threatened to retaliate against Pakistan for the killing of two soldiers in fighting near the border of the disputed region of Kashmir, saying he had asked his commanders there to be aggressive in the face of provocation.

General Bikram Singh's remarks come amid mounting public anger in India after Delhi accused Pakistani soldiers of slitting the throat of one of the soldiers and decapitating him.

Despite each side blaming the other for the worst outbreak of violence in the area since a ceasefire was agreed nine years ago, analysts said a breakdown in ties was highly unlikely.

The two nations have fought three wars, two over Kashmir, since independence in 1947 and are now both nuclear-armed.

Calling the beheading of the soldier "gruesome", Singh told a news conference: "We reserve the right to retaliate at a time and place of our choosing."

Singh said the Indian army would honor the ceasefire in Kashmir, so long as Pakistan did, but would respond immediately to any violation of the truce.

"I expect all my commanders at the Line of Control to be both aggressive and offensive in the face of provocation and fire," he said.

Last week's fighting in the Himalayan region both nations claim comes at a time when the two sides have made some progress in repairing ties, notably by opening trade links.   Continued...

 
An Indian Border Security Force (BSF) soldier patrols near the fenced border with Pakistan in Suchetgarh, southwest of Jammu January 14, 2013. India's army chief General Bikram Singh held out the threat of retaliating against Pakistan for the killing of two soldiers at the de facto border in Kashmir, saying he had asked his ground commanders to be aggressive in the face of provocation. REUTERS/Mukesh Gupta