India blasts Pakistan after deadly militant attack

  • 19/09/2016

India is blasting Pakistan for being a 'terrorist state' after a deadly raid on a Kashmir army base left 17 Indian soldiers dead.

Heavily armed militants stormed the base in a pre-dawn raid, surprising soldiers in their sleep and setting their fire to their compound.

It's the deadliest attack on security forces in Kashmir's history. Pakistan is denying any involvement.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi strongly condemned what he called the "cowardly terror attack".

"I assure the nation that those behind this despicable attack will not go unpunished," Modi said in a series of Twitter posts.

Four "fidayeen" - or commando-style gunmen willing to fight to the death - were confirmed killed after penetrating the base in Uri near the Line of Control with Pakistan, an Indian army spokesman said.

Television reporters at the scene said the dawn raid had surprised soldiers in their sleep. The attackers set fire to a building before the four were killed in a gunfight that lasted several hours.

An army spokesman confirmed that the number of soldiers killed in the attack had risen to 17, making the toll far worse than a similar raid on an army base in Punjab state in January that India blamed on Pakistan-based militants.

Television footage showed helicopters flying to evacuate the injured as an operation continued to secure the area. Smoke rose from the compound, set in mountainous terrain. The Defence Ministry put the number of wounded at 35.

Indian-ruled Kashmir is one of the world's most militarised regions, with hundreds of thousands of soldiers, paramilitaries and police deployed to guard the frontier with Pakistan and contain a restive people with strong leanings towards greater autonomy and even independence.

"It is clearly a case of cross-border terror attack. We don't know which militant group is involved," a senior Home Ministry official told Reuters.

Pakistan rejected allegations that it was involved. "India immediately puts blame on Pakistan without doing any investigation. We reject this," foreign ministry spokesman Nafees Zakaria said

There has been no claim of responsibility.