Wreath laying ceremony of soldiers who were killed in Uri attack on Sunday
(Image via NDTV)
An attack on an army base, 12 Brigade headquarters at Uri in Indian Occupied Kashmir early on Sunday morning left 17 soldiers and 4 militants dead. The site is used to station soldiers following their tour of duty in the disputed Himalayan region and had more soldiers on the base than usual at the time of the incident.
Dawn media reported,
“The (suspected) ‘militants’ first attacked a frontline base close to the Line of Control (LoC) before moving onto the brigade headquarters at Uri, army spokesman Colonel S.D. Goswami said.
They were armed with grenades and automatic rifles, an army official said on condition of anonymity.”
Around a dozen soldiers died as incendiary ammunition set fire to tents where they slept, 4 of the attackers were killed following a gun battle at the scene. At least 35 soldiers suffered injuries some critical and were transferred to a hospital in Srinagar, the capital of Jammu and Kashmir, located around 122 kms from Uri. The capital Future Post magazine quoted an army officer who said,
“The soldiers were sleeping in tents for paucity of space, 6 Bihar was to replace 10 Dogra and because of the paucity of space, the soldiers were sleeping in a tent as there was not enough space to accommodate the soldiers. The terrorists opened indiscriminate fire on the sleeping Jawans and threw grenades towards the tents that caught fire.”
Prime Minister of India, Narandra Modi who was due to travel to Uri to take stock of the situation stated, “we strongly condemn the cowardly terror attack in Uri. I assure the nation that those behind this despicable attack will not go unpunished. We salute all those martyred in Uri. Their service to the nation will always be remembered. My thoughts are with the bereaved families.”
Rajnath Singh, the Indian home minister was quick to accuse Pakistan of involvement in the attack, the Guardian reported Singh stating,
“I am deeply disappointed with Pakistan’s continued and direct support to terrorism and terrorist groups,” he said. “There are definitive and conclusive indictions that the perpetrators of [the] Uri attack were highly trained, heavily armed and specially equipped. Pakistan is a terrorist state and it should be identified and isolate as such.”
Singh also tweeted, “keeping the situation of Jammu and Kashmir in mind and in the wake of the terror attack in Uri, I have postponed my visits to Russia and the USA.”
According to the Times of India, a map was retrieved following the assault, showing a mission plan which was annotated in Pashto see following article,
“Uri attack: Tell-all map in Pashto exposes plotters”
Pakistan denied any involvement in the attack. NDTV reported,
“Pakistan army spokesman Lt Gen Asim Saleem Bajwa said that following the attack Director Generals of Military Operations (DGMOs) of the two countries discussed the situation along the Line of Control via the hotline.
‘Refuting the unfounded and premature Indian allegation, Pakistani DGMO asked his counterpart to share any actionable intelligence,’ Radio Pakistan reported citing a release by the Inter-Services Public Relations – the public relations department of Pakistan’s spy agency ISI.”
Although to date there have been no claims of responsibility, one militant group based in Pakistan has warned of its capabilities to carry out attacks in India. Following a claim of responsibility for the Wagah border attack in November 2014, Ehsanullah Ehsan, spokesman for Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan Jamaat-ul-Ahrar (TTP JA) stated, “this is message for the governments of both sides of the border, if we can attack on one side, we can also attack on other side (India).”
See following link,
“Pakistan Taliban: TTP JA claim responsibility for Wagah attack and warn of more to come”
Times of India suggests attackers could be linked to Jaish-e-Muhammad alleging, “all four attackers were killed and identified by the Army as being part of the Jaish-e-Muhammed’s Afzal Guru squad.”
There is also the possibility of an attack from a militant group based within Kashmir in retaliation for the the killing of Burhan Wani, Commander of Hizbul Mujahideen by the Indian military on the 8th July 2016.
In Pakistan the following was reported by the Quint,
“The News International said that Pakistani security officials were confident that the Uri attack was a ‘Pathankot-like stage drama (referring to an earlier attack in India) to trumpet its terrorism mantra against Pakistan and counter Islamabad’s diplomatic moves to expose Indian atrocities in Kashmir at a time when Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is all set to expose New Delhi at the UN General Assembly session’”.
Whoever is responsible, Sunday’s attack is being seen as one of the worst incidences of violence against the Indian military in the last 2 decades. An earlier attack on a base in Uri was carried out in December 2014 and led to the deaths of 3 suspected militants and 9 members of security forces see following link,
“Deadly gun fight erupts in Kashmir”
The Tribune (India) highlighted that, “the border districts of Pathankot and Amritsar were put on alert today after the Uri terror attack” and that “additional security measures were being taken at the Attari-Wagah joint checkpost.”
The strike on Uri follows over 2 months of unrest in the Kashmir region following Wani’s death. Since then there have been dozens of protests with calls for Aazdi (freedom) from India and for a referendum so that Kashmiris can determine their own future. Demonstrations have been met with curfews and clampdowns with allegations of repeated human rights abuses from military and police with civilians facing teargas, detentions, bullets and pellet guns, many now blinded.
Over 80 people have been killed with thousands of injuries reported. Even women, children and the mentally challenged have not escaped attack. Journalists have faced censorship with press offices closed down and an internet ban. Khurran Parvez a human rights activist with Jammu Kashmir Coalition Civil Society (JKCCS) has recently been arrested and faces what some feel are trumped up charges of inciting protests and stone pelting.
Referring to the Uri assault, Allari Naresh tweeted,
17 martyrs.Each was somebody’s everybody.My heart goes out to their families.Is it really that difficult for peace to prevail?
To which @IbtisamChdhry responded,
Carol Anne Grayson is an independent writer/researcher on global health/human rights/WOT and is Executive Producer of the Oscar nominated, Incident in New Baghdad. She is a Registered Mental Nurse with a Masters in Gender Culture and Development. Carol was awarded the ESRC, Michael Young Prize for Research 2009, and the COTT ‘Action = Life’ Human Rights Award’ for “upholding truth and justice”. She is also a survivor of US “collateral damage”