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India Urges Pakistan to Probe Cross-Border Clash

Activists of the youth wing of India's ruling Congress party shout slogans as they beat and burn an effigy depicting Pakistan during a protest in the central Indian city of Bhopal, January 9, 2013.
India has lodged a strong protest with Pakistan for the killing of two Indian soldiers and the mutilation of their bodies in an alleged cross border attack in disputed Kashmir. Pakistan denies the incident. But India says the attack should not be allowed to derail a peace process between the nuclear armed neighbors.

Indian Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid says India has conveyed in very strong terms New Delhi’s deepest concern for the fire fight along the Kashmir border in which two Indian soldiers were killed.

Indian officials summoned the Pakistan high commissioner Salman Bashir Wednesday and said the bodies of the soldiers were subject to “barbaric and inhuman mutilation.” It has asked Islamabad to investigate the incident.

Pakistani military officials have rejected the allegations, saying they have verified the facts on the ground and nothing has happened. Tuesday’s incident was the first major dispute between the two armies since a ceasefire was declared nearly a decade ago.

Foreign Minister Khurshid warns that it is crucial for the two countries to maintain the truce.

“Violation of that [ceasefire] in itself which is a matter of great concern and obviously if not immediately contained would have an adverse impact on what we are trying to do for such a long time,” he said.

New Delhi says Pakistani troops took advantage of thick fog on Tuesday and crossed the 740-kilometer ceasefire line that divides the disputed Himalayan region. The Pakistan army says the allegation is a ploy to divert attention from an incident on Sunday in which Indian troops raided a Pakistani post and killed a Pakistani soldier.

Foreign Minister Khurshid says the two countries, whose ties have improved in the last year, should not allow the situation to worsen.

“It is very important that we make sure that whatever has happened should not be escalated," he added. "We cannot and must not allow for an escalation of a very unwholesome event that has taken place and I hope that message has gone home.”

In India, there was widespread anger and condemnation at reports of the mutilation of the bodies of the two soldiers. An Indian army spokesman says the body of one of the two soldiers was decapitated.

Defense Minister A.K. Antony calls the Pakistani army’s action highly provocative.

“The way they treated the dead body of the soldiers, the Indian soldiers is inhuman,” said Antony.

In the past year, India and Pakistan have taken steps to boost trade ties and improve people-to-people contact in a bid to defuse tensions. Although their six-decade dispute about Kashmir still festers, the two countries say they it is important for them to normalize ties.