Indian police blame Pakistan for Jammu and Kashmir strife that killed 12

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Police in India’s territory of Jammu and Kashmir blamed arch rival Pakistan on Wednesday for a spurt in militant attacks that killed 12 people and injured dozens over the last three days, just weeks after a large turnout for general elections.

Pakistan claims the Himalayan region, which has been roiled by militant violence since the start of an anti-Indian insurgency in 1989 that killed tens of thousands, although violence has waned in recent years.

“Our hostile neighbor wants to damage our peaceful environment,” Anand Jain, police chief of Jammu, told reporters in a reference to Pakistan, which India has accused of stoking violence in the region for decades.

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A spokesperson for Pakistan’s foreign ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Reuters. It has denied such claims in the past, saying it has given only political and diplomatic support to the insurgency.

Gunbattles in the area on Tuesday killed two militants and a paramilitary soldier while injuring a civilian and six security personnel, authorities said.

The incidents came two days after nine Hindu pilgrims were killed and 41 injured when militants attacked a bus taking them to a Hindu shrine on Sunday, as Prime Minister Narendra Modi was sworn in for a third term.

The latest violence has prompted criticism of Modi by opposition parties demanding action against the perpetrators.

“Unless we talk to our neighbors we will not be able to solve the problem,” Farooq Abdullah, a former chief minister of the region, told news agency ANI, in which Reuters has a minority stake.

The sudden rise in violence comes after the region’s director general of police, R.R. Swain, said the number of local militants was dropping, although 70 to 80 foreign militants continue to be active.

“We are moving from resident terrorism to foreign terrorism,” Swain said last week.

Ties between the neighbors have been frozen since India ended the special status of Jammu and Kashmir state in 2019, splitting it into two federally administered territories.

On Monday, the leaders of the nuclear-armed rivals engaged in diplomacy on X as Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and his elder brother and former three-time prime minister Nawaz Sharif posted congratulations to Modi for his third term.

In response, Modi said, “The well-being and security of our people shall always remain our priority.”

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Nine Hindu pilgrims dead after militant attack in India’s Jammu, police say

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