NEW DELHI, Sept. 19 (UPI) — Demands are growing in India for a response to Pakistan for the killing of 18 Indian soldiers in the disputed province of Kashmir.
Initial reports said four gunmen believe to be members of Jaish-e-Muhammad, a Pakistan-based militant group, stormed an army base Sunday in Uri, near the Pakistan-India border in Indian-administered Kashmir, killing 17 soldiers. An eighteenth died of his injuries after he was transferred to Delhi.
Senior government leaders in New Delhi blame Pakistan’s military for helping launch the attack, the BBC reported Monday, and are urging retaliation. A response will likely escalate tension between the countries.
“I assure the nation that those behind this despicable attack will not go unpunished,” Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced after the strike, without mentioning Pakistan.
In a televised statement, Lt. Gen. Ranbir Singh, Indian director general of military operations, said the attackers carried equipment with “Pakistani markings.”
Modi convened a high-level meeting of his defense and diplomatic officials, and sources said he seeks concrete evidence of Pakistan’s complicity in the incident, India Express reported Monday. The meeting included a discussion of the ammunition, found only in military establishments, used by the attackers, implying it was provided by the Pakistani army. The evidence would be presented to the U.N. General Assembly, convening this week in New York.
After the meeting, Kiren Rijiju said India was not concerned with Pakistani denials and will not respond with a knee-jerk reaction.
“Everything is in front of the people. We must not give much attention to Pakistan’s reaction. We will take our steps carefully,” Rijiju said.
Modi, while running for the prime minister’s position in 2014, repeatedly called for demonstrating to Pakistan that India is not a soft power, and would reply forcefully to any attack.