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Kashmir tense amid militancy crackdown

At the Line of Control (LoC), the de facto border between the nuclear-armed neighbors, there was relative calm in the past 24 hours, their armies said .

 (Subscribe to the Economist magazine now in India, Pakistan & Bangladesh).

As India and Pakistan seemingly dial down hostilities that brought the arch enemies to the brink of another war, a massive crackdown on militancy in the Indian-controlled Kashmir region is killing both militants and security personnel in big numbers.

The exchange of fire in the past few days has killed seven people on the Pakistani side and four on the Indian side, though the release of a downed Indian fighter pilot by Pakistan on Friday night has helped de-escalate tensions.

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"By and large the LoC was calm last night but you never know when it will become active again," said Chaudhry Tariq Farooq, a minister in Pakistani Kashmir. "Tension still prevails."

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Indian warplanes carried out air strikes recntly inside northeast Pakistan's Balakot on what New Delhi called militant camps. Islamabad denied any such camps existed, as did some villagers in the area when Reuters visited.
Nevertheless, Pakistan retaliated  with its own aerial mission in a show of force. The countries have fought three wars since independence from Britain in 1947.

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In Indian-ruled Kashmir, troops on Sunday shot dead two Kashmiris after a three-day gun battle that also killed five security force personnel, taking the total death toll to 25 in the past two weeks. The fresh anti-militancy drive was launched after a Kashmiri suicide bomber, a member of a Pakistan-based militant group, killed 40 Indian paramilitary police on Feb. 14.

The government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi has also come down hard on separatist groups operating in Kashmir, including by banning the Jamaat-e-Islami party, two of whose clerics were detained in raids on Saturday night.

March 5, 2019

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