India says suicide attack mastermind killed

A house where suspected militants were holding up is seen in flames during a gun battle with Indian security forces in south Kashmir. (Reuters)

 

AFP, Srinagar, India

 

India’s army said on Tuesday it had killed the mastermind of a major suicide bomb attack in Kashmir which it blamed on Pakistan, as calls grew for reprisals over the deaths of more than 40 paramilitaries and soldiers.

Indian forces have staged operations since Thursday’s attack.

Three militants from the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) group, which claimed responsibility for the suicide attack, were killed in a gun battle that lasted much of Monday, Lieutenant General Kanwal Jeet Singh Dhillon told a press conference in Srinagar.

Two of the militants were Pakistanis, including the group’s “chief operations commander” in Kashmir, the army general said.

Dhillon said the attack had been “masterminded” by Pakistan, and specifically its powerful Inter-Services Intelligence branch.

Pakistan, which banned the JeM in 2002, has denied any role in the attack.

The attack on a military convoy by an explosives-packed car was the deadliest assault on security personnel in Kashmir for three decades.

Militant hideout

Hundreds of Indian soldiers on Monday raided a suspected militant hideout in a village close to the site of Thursday’s attack.

Besides the three militants, the battle left four Indian soldiers, a policeman and a civilian dead.

Kashmir is split between India and Pakistan with both the nuclear-armed countries, which have fought three wars, claiming it in its entirety.

India accuses Pakistan of supporting JeM, one of a host of groups fighting the Indian presence in Kashmir. Islamabad denies the charge.

The deaths of the Indian security men have triggered nationwide anger.

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