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Indian army accuses Pakistan of unprovoked attack on troops

India’s security forces have suffered a double blow in Kashmir, with five police officers shot dead in a bank raid and two soldiers killed in an attack on the border with Pakistan.

Early on Monday, the Indian army accused Pakistan of killing two of its soldiers and mutilating their bodies in an “unprovoked” rocket and mortar attack in the disputed border region.

The army said Pakistani troops attacked a patrol operating between two border posts on the de facto frontier known as the line of control in the remote Himalayan region.

“In an unsoldierly act by the Pak army the bodies of two of our soldiers in the patrol were mutilated,” it said, warning of an “appropriate response”.

The Pakistani army denied responsibility for the cross-border attack, and said the mutilation claims were false. “Pakistan army is a highly professional force and shall never disrespect a soldier, even Indian,” it said.

India’s defence minister, Arun Jaitley, said the incident was “the handiwork of a neighbouring nation”.

In a separate event later in the day, suspected militants opened fire on a bank van carrying cash about 45 miles (70km) south of Kashmir’s main city of Srinagar, killing everybody on board, police said.

“All the seven in the van, five policemen and two bank employees, were killed,” the director general of police, SP Vaid, said of the raid in Pumbai, Kulgam district.

The assailants escaped with cash and weapons, another police officer said on condition of anonymity.

In a statement to a local news agency, the Kashmiri militant group Hizbul Mujahideen claimed responsibility for the attack and warned more would follow.

Kashmir has been divided between India and Pakistan since the end of British rule in 1947, but both claim the territory in its entirety.

Anti-India sentiment runs deep in the predominantly Muslim Kashmir valley, one of the world’s most heavily militarised spots, where most people favour independence or a merger with Pakistan.

Apart from armed militant groups, the roughly 500,000 Indian soldiers in Kashmir are regularly involved in clashes with civilians. Last week they shot at a crowd of demonstrators outside a garrison where militants had previously killed three soldiers, hitting one civilian who later died.

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