World Bulletin / News Desk
The Indian army has pledged vengeance for three Indian soldiers who were killed near the de-facto border between the Pakistani and Indian-held sides of divided Kashmir on Tuesday.
A tweet from the Indian army said one of the bodies had been mutilated and promised the "retribution will be heavy," though an official in the army spokesman's office would not specify whether the soldiers were killed by militants or Pakistani forces.
Last month, another Indian soldier was killed and beheaded in the same area and the attackers escaped unhurt.
Hostilities between arch-rivals India and Pakistan have increased since India accused Pakistan of links to gunmen who killed 19 soldiers in Indian-held Kashmir (IHK) in September.
Pakistan has denied the charge while itself accusing India of repressing pro-independence protests that started in the disputed Himalayan region in July, since when more than 100 Kashmiri civilians have been shot dead by Indian forces and thousands injured.
According to Pakistan's State Disaster Management Authority (SDMA), at least 34 Pakistanis, including 10 soldiers, have been killed in clashes along the boundary with India since October, while 12 Indian civilians and 15 soldiers have been killed during the same period of escalated tensions, according to Indian media.
Meanwhile, in a separate gunbattle with the Indian Army, two militants were killed in north Kashmir’s Bandipore area earlier on Tuesday.
Kashmir, a Muslim-majority Himalayan region, is held by India and Pakistan in parts and claimed by both in full.
The two countries have fought three wars – in 1948, 1965 and 1971 – since they were partitioned in 1947, two of which were fought over Kashmir.
Since 1989, Kashmiri resistance groups in IHK have been fighting against Indian rule for independence, or for unification with neighboring Pakistan.
More than 70,000 people have reportedly been killed in the conflict so far, most of them by the Indian Armed forces. India maintains more than half a million troops in the disputed region.