March 2018 News
India Blames Lashkar-e-Taiba For Kashmir Attack On Security Forces26 March 2018
Long War Journal
Washington DC: Indian officials accused the Pakistani-backed Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) terrorist group of attacking a joint group of Indian Army personnel and local policemen in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir last week. The fighting, which took place in the northern Kupwara district and lasted for two days, resulted in the deaths of three Indian Army personnel, two policemen, and five LeT terrorists. 'The five militants were foreign. From the material we have, it appears that they were part of Lashkar-e-Taiba,' India's Inspector General of Police for Kashmir told the press after the assault, according to the Hindustan Times. After killing five terrorists and sweeping the surrounding forests, Indian forces displayed a large cache of weapons and ammunition recovered during the clash. Indian news sources suggest that the terrorists 'infiltrated into the Indian-held side of Kashmir from Pakistani-controlled Kashmir' and had taken strategic shelter in the forested areas surrounding Kupwara for 'several weeks' before they attacked the joint Indian security forces during a cordon-and-search operation nearby. Kupwara district has been a hub for LeT. In Nov. 2017, Indian security forces killed three LeT fighters and detained another during an operation there. In Feb. 2018, joint Indian forces raided a LeT hideout in the district. Pakistan-based jihadist groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM), and Hizbul Mujahideen (HM) fuel the insurgency inside Jammu and Kashmir, with the direct support of the Pakistani state. Pakistan falsely denies that it supports LeT and other terrorist groups. The Pakistani military created the United Jihad Council (UJC), an umbrella organization that coordinates activities of terror groups operating in Jammu and Kashmir. LeT, JeM, and HM are principal members of the UJC. Syed Salahuddin, the emir of HM who is designated by the US as a global terrorist, leads the UJC. LeT, JeM, and HM are listed by the US as Foreign Terrorist Organizations. [See LWJ report, Pakistani General talks tough on terrorism, but remains short on action.] Last year India announced a new initiative for combating terrorism in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. Titled 'Operation All-Out,' the strategy would target militants from groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad, and Hizbul Mujahideen, all of which retain safe-havens and support in Pakistan. According to The Hindu, Jammu & Kashmir Director-General of Police, S. P. Vaid, stated that '(Operation All-Out) was started to ensure that Kashmir is freed from violence and peace prevails.' During the operation, security forces killed 213 terrorists in 2017, and 28 since the beginning of this year, according to reports. Last week's encounter comes at a time when India and Pakistan have increasingly accused each other of cross-border shelling across the 'Line of Control' (LoC) in Kashmir. Instances of claimed violations have increased in recent months, and have reportedly resulted in civilian deaths.