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The 2016 Uri attack was an attack by four heavily armed terrorists on 18 September 2016, near the town of Uri in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. It was reported as "the deadliest attack on security forces in Kashmir in two decades". The militant group Jaish-e-Mohammed was blamed by India of being involved in the planning and execution of the attack. At the time of the attack, the Kashmir Valley region was at the centre of unrest. Since 2015, the militants have increasingly taken to high-profile fidayeen attacks against the Indian security forces: in July 2015, three gunmen attacked a bus and police station in Gurdaspur and earlier in 2016, 4–6 gunmen attacked the Pathankot Air Force Station. Indian authorities blamed Jaish-e-Mohammad for the latter attack.
|2016 Uri attack|
|Part of the Insurgency in Jammu and Kashmir|
Location in Jammu and Kashmir, India
|Location||Near Uri, Baramulla district, Jammu and Kashmir, India|
|Date||18 September 2016 |
5.30 am (IST)
|insurgency, guerrilla warfare|
|Weapons||4 AK-47 rifles, 4 under barrel grenade launchers, 5 hand grenades, 9 UBGL grenades|
|Deaths||23 (19 soldiers, 4 attackers)|
|Jaish-e-Mohammad (suspected by India)|
Lashkar-e-Taiba (claimed by India)
List of terrorist incidents in India
Attacks with 50+ deaths in italics'
The 2016 Uri attack was an attack by four heavily armed terrorists on 18 September 2016, near the town of Uri in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. It was reported as "the deadliest attack on security forces in Kashmir in two decades". The militant group Jaish-e-Mohammed was blamed by India of being involved in the planning and execution of the attack. At the time of the attack, the Kashmir Valley region was at the centre of unrest.
Since 2015, the militants have increasingly taken to high-profile fidayeen attacks against the Indian security forces: in July 2015, three gunmen attacked a bus and police station in Gurdaspur and earlier in 2016, 4–6 gunmen attacked the Pathankot Air Force Station. Indian authorities blamed Jaish-e-Mohammad for the latter attack.
Also, since 8 July 2016, the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir has been undergoing continuous unrest following the killing of Burhan Wani, a militant leader popular with the youth in the state. The killing sparked violent protests against the Indian government in the valley, leading to the protests being described as the "largest anti-India protests" in recent years.
At around 5:30 a.m. on 18 September, four militants attacked an Indian Army brigade headquarters in Uri, near the Line of Control in a pre-dawn ambush. They were said to have lobbed 17 grenades in three minutes. As a rear administrative base camp with tents caught fire, 17 army personnel were killed during the attack. An additional 19-30 soldiers were reported to have been injured. A gun battle ensued lasting six hours, during which all the four militants were killed. Combing operations continued to flush out additional terrorists thought to be alive.
Most of the soldiers killed were from the 10th battalion, Dogra Regiment (10 Dogra) and 6th battalion, Bihar Regiment (6 Bihar). One of the injured soldiers succumbed to his injuries on 19 September at RR Hospital in New Delhi, followed by another soldier on 24 September, bringing the death toll to 19.
The casualties were primarily believed to have occurred as a result of non-fire retardant transition tents. This was the time of a troops shift, whereby troops from 6 Bihar were replacing troops from 10 Dogra. The incoming troops were housed in tents, which are normally avoided in sensitive areas around the LOC like Uri. The attackers sneaked into the camp breaching heavy security and seemed to know exactly where to strike. Seven of the personnel killed were support staff, including cooks and barbers.
On 19 September, Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, Chief of the Army Staff Dalbir Singh, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and other officials of the Home and Defence ministries met to review the security situation in Kashmir, particularly in areas along the Line of Control. The National Investigation Agency filed a first information report regarding the attack and took over the investigation from Jammu and Kashmir Police on 20 September.
Pakistan International Airlines cancelled flights to some parts of Kashmir on 21 September in the aftermath of the attack. Security around the army installation in Uri was intensified following the attack, while soldiers on both the Indian and Pakistani side of Line of Control were placed on high alert.
In the wake of the attack, India cancelled its participation in the 19th SAARC summit to be held in November in Islamabad, Pakistan. The Ministry of External Affairs issued a statement, saying, "India has conveyed to current SAARC Chair Nepal that increasing cross-border terrorist attacks in the region and growing interference in the internal affairs of Member States by one country have created an environment that is not conducive to the successful holding of the 19th SAARC Summit in Islamabad in November 2016." "In the prevailing circumstances, the Government of India is unable to participate in the proposed Summit in Islamabad", the statement said.
On India withdrawing from the scheduled SAARC summit in Islamabad, Pakistan's Foreign Office termed the withdrawal "unfortunate", and posted a rejoinder stating: "As for the excuse used by India, the world knows that it is India that has been perpetrating and financing terrorism in Pakistan." The statement included a reference to Indian national Kulbhushan Jadhav, detained by Pakistan for espionage, and accused India of violating international laws by interfering inside Pakistan.
Later, Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Bhutan also withdrew from the summit. On 30 September 2016, Pakistan stated that the summit scheduled for November 9 and 10 in Islamabad would be held on an alternative date.
On September 29, eleven days after the attack, the Indian Army conducted retaliatory "surgical strikes" on what it termed "launch-pads" used by militants in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. Indian Director General of Military Operations (DGMO) Lt Gen Ranbir Singh said that it had made a preemptive strike against "terrorist teams" who were preparing to "carry out infiltration and conduct terrorist strikes inside Jammu and Kashmir and in various metros in other states". The Economist reported that small teams of Indian commandos crossed the Line of Control and struck at the safe houses, killing about a dozen militants.
Following the uproar after the Uri attack, Indian Motion Picture Producers Association (IMPPA) decided to ban all Pakistani actors, actresses and technicians working in India till the situation returns to normal. Bollywood artists were divided towards the ban with some justifying it while some questioning its benefits. Indian TV entertainment channel, Zindagi announced discontinuation of showcasing Pakistani TV shows on the channel. The Pakistani government responded in October with a blanket ban on all Indian television and radio programming in Pakistan.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), the national governing body for cricket in India, ruled out the possibility of reviving bilateral cricket ties with Pakistan in the near future. BCCI also asked the International Cricket Council (ICC) to not group Indian and Pakistan cricket teams together in international tournaments, keeping in mind border tensions between the two countries. Badminton Association of India, the governing body for badminton in India, decided to boycott the Pakistan International Series scheduled to be held in Islamabad in October, as an act of "solidarity" with the government's diplomatic offensive against Pakistan.
An initial investigation into the attack indicated that there were several procedural lapses at the camp. According to the standard security procedures, any tall grass and bushes around vital security installations should be trimmed. However, this procedure was not followed by the Uri camp which might have allowed terrorists to sneak into the camp undetected using the tall grass and bushes around the perimeter. In addition, the probe also indicated that two manned guard posts failed to detect the intrusion because the coordination between them might have been poor. It also indicated that the terrorists had infiltrated into Indian territory through Haji Peer Pass on the intervening night of 16–17 September and stayed at Sukhdar village which is located at a vantage point that allows an unhindered view of the layout of the camp as well as movement of the personnel in it.
The Director General of military operations, Lieutenant-General Ranbir Singh, said that there was evidence[clarification needed] that the attackers belonged to Jaish-e-Mohammad. He established a hotline contact with his Pakistani counterpart and conveyed India's serious concern on the issue. Lieutenant General Ranbir Singh has also stated that the militants used incendiary ammunition to set fire to the tents.
The Indian Ministry of External Affairs said:
In the recent incidents, we have recovered a number of items that include GPS from the bodies of terrorists with coordinates that indicate the point and time of infiltration across the LoC and the subsequent route to the terror attack site; grenades with Pakistani markings; communication matrix sheets; communication equipment; and other stores made in Pakistan, including food, medicines and clothes.
Whilst, on 29 September, National Investigation Agency officials said:
Former Pakistani General Pervez Musharraf said the weapons that India reported as used by militants, and reported to have Pakistani markings, could be procured anywhere in the world, not just in Pakistan. Musharraf further said since many American weapons had inadvertently fallen into the hands of the Taliban, it is possible for Pakistani weapons to have been acquired by the perpetrators without Pakistani involvement.
On 25 September, the Indian Army said that two Pakistani nationals from Azad Kashmir were arrested by the Border Security Force in the Uri sector. They were said to have been recruited by Jaish-e-Mohammad two years ago for the purpose of acting as guides to infiltrating groups in the Uri sector. These guides themselves did not have a role in the Uri attack. They were being questioned for gathering intelligence about infiltration attempts. Pakistan denied these allegations. On the 26th of February 2017, India's National Investigative Agency (NIA) decided to file a closure report after failing to find any evidence against the two men whom they accused of facilitating the Uri army base attack.
On 25 October 2016, the Indian media reported that street "posters" in Gujranwala, Pakistan, attributed to Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) claimed responsibility for the Uri attack. The posters claimed that one of LeT's fighters Mohammad Anas, code-named Abu Saraqa, died in the Uri attack, and there would be a funeral prayer followed by a speech by the LeT chief Hafiz Saeed on 25 October. The poster also claimed death of 177 Indian soldiers in Uri attack. After the images of the poster circulated on the Internet, the organisation claimed that it was a hoax. Abbas Nasir, the former editor of Dawn, confirmed the report about the posters on Twitter but stated that the funeral prayers have been postponed.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and members of his cabinet condemned the attack. Minister of Defence Manohar Parrikar and Indian Army chief General Dalbir Singh visited Kashmir soon after the attack to assess the ongoing military operations and review the security situation in the region. Parrikar instructed the army to take firm action against those responsible for the attack and also stated that the deaths of the soldiers "will not go in vain." Home Minister Rajnath Singh accused Pakistan of what he called its "continued and direct support to terrorism and terrorist groups," calling Pakistan a "terrorist state" that should be "isolated." Minister of State for Defence Subhash Bhamre stated that the "entire nation was traumatised" over the death of the soldiers and was "united in this hour of grief." He also stated that the Prime Minister, Home Minister and Defence Minister had come to a conclusion that some sort of a "response" needs to be given to Pakistan.
Minister of State for External Affairs Sushma Swaraj and former Army chief Vijay Kumar Singh stated that India will give a "befitting reply" to the attack. He called upon the Indian Armed Forces to scale up their security and described a cold and calculated response as the need of the hour. He also called for an investigation into the shortcomings which led to the attack while stating that the Army should decide its response "coolly" with proper planning. Many[vague] Indian politicians and public figures have condemned the attack. Former Indian diplomats and foreign policy experts[who?] have said that India had been driven to the wall and that a measured and effective response was needed. The opposition Indian National Congress has said that there was no more scope for constructive dialogue with Pakistan.
Later on the same day, India called upon the United Nations Human Rights Council to urge Pakistan to put an end to cross-border infiltration and dismantle the non-state militant infrastructure since the likes of Hafeez Saeed (the chief of Lashkar-e-Taiba) and Syed Salahuddin (the chief of Hizbul Mujahideen) can hold huge rallies in Pakistan's main cities. It suggested that active support for such groups has become the "new normal" in Pakistan. It claimed that "zero tolerance" to non-state militancy was an international obligation. The Indian government summoned the Pakistani envoy and handed him a dossier that alleged Pakistani involvement as well as a warning that Pakistan needs to rein in militants they say operate from Pakistan.
On 24 September, Prime Minister Modi formally responded to the attack during a BJP rally in Kozhikode, Kerala; in his address, he charged Pakistan with responsibility for the attack, saying that India would "never forget" Uri and would "leave no stone unturned to isolate Pakistan in the world." He called upon the citizens of both India and Pakistan to fight against poverty. "I want to say that India is ready for a war... India is ready for a war on poverty. Let both countries fight to see who would eradicate poverty first... I want to tell the youth of Pakistan, let's have a war on ending unemployment... I want to call out to the children in Pakistan, let's declare war on illiteracy. Let's see who wins."
In further responding to the attack, on 26 September, the Indian government stated it would exercise its rights under the 1960 Indus Waters Treaty to the full and would expand its utilisation of its rivers flowing through Jammu and Kashmir. Talks under the aegis of the Permanent Indus Commission, to which any disputes may be submitted, would cease "until terror comes to an end." The body had most recently met in July 2016. The government subsequently stated it would review Pakistan's most-favoured-nation (MFN) trade status, which India had granted in 1996.
Pakistan's Foreign Ministry rejected India's allegations of involvement in the attack. The ministry asserted that India had a "tendency" of accusing Pakistan for incidents inside its territory, adding that "in the past many Indians were involved in the terrorist acts for which India had blamed Pakistan." The ministry deemed Indian statements as "vitriolic." Pakistan's foreign ministry also accused the Indian government of trying to deflect attention from the human rights situation in Kashmir, with a reference to the ongoing civil unrest. It said the situation in Indian-administered Kashmir was "not of Pakistan's making but a direct consequence of illegal Indian occupation and a long history of atrocities", and that India's reaction of accusing Pakistan without investigations was "deplorable."
During a press conference in London, Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif linked the incident to the recent unrest and human rights issues in Kashmir. Interior Minister Nisar Ali Khan said there were several contradictions within Indian media reports over the evidence, and claimed India was imposing censorship when their "lies were exposed." Defence Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif termed the attack an "inside job", saying that no proof was provided substantiating India's allegations, and said India was not serious about solving the Kashmir dispute. Pakistan's envoy in New Delhi, Abdul Basit, told India's Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar that India sought to divert world attention from state atrocities in Kashmir by blaming the attack on Pakistan. Basit also added that if India was serious about the investigations, it should not avoid allowing independent investigators to probe it.
In the hours following the attack, Pakistan's military established a hotline with the Indian military. The Pakistani military rejected Indian accusations, saying that infiltration was not possible across the heavily guarded LOC. Pakistan's Director General of Military Operations also asked the Indian military to provide actionable intelligence.
Pakistan's Chief of Army Staff Raheel Sharif claimed that India was propagating a "hostile narrative" in response the attack and also stated that the Pakistani armed forces were "prepared to respond to the entire spectrum of direct and indirect threat."
In response to India's suspension of cooperation over the Indus Waters Treaty, Sartaj Aziz said India could not revoke the treaty unilaterally as per the IWT's provisions and international laws, and said such a move would be taken as an act of "war and hostilities." Aziz said Pakistan would approach the United Nations Security Council in that event.
On India withdrawing from the scheduled SAARC summit in Islamabad, Pakistan's Foreign Office termed the withdrawal "unfortunate" and posted a rejoinder stating: "As for the excuse used by India, the world knows that it is India that has been perpetrating and financing terrorism in Pakistan." The statement included a reference to Indian national Kulbhushan Jadhav, detained by Pakistan for espionage, and accused India of violating international laws by interfering inside Pakistan.
The Deutsche Welle noted that Kashmir was already in international headlines at the time of the Uri attack due to the anti-India protests. It further noted that immediately after the attack, mainstream media in India and Pakistan engaged in "angry" rhetoric towards each other. A video of Indian soldiers chanting "Pakistan, hear this loud and clear: If ... war breaks out you will be obliterated" went viral. The Diplomat noted that many Indian media had openly called for a war on Pakistan.
India Today suggested that the fallout from the Uri attack would hurt Pakistani artists in India. Maharashtra Navnirman Sena gave all Pakistani artists in India 48 hours to leave the country and warned that they would be "hunted down". Subhash Chandra also said Pakistani artists should leave. Zee TV considered terminating Pakistani shows. The Indian Motion Picture Producers Association (IMPPA) decided to ban all Pakistani actors, actresses and technicians in India till the situation returned to normal. However Bollywood artists were divided towards the ban with some justifying it while some questioning its benefits.
On 18 September, the Times of India revealed that the army personnel recovered a map from the attackers which had markings in the Pashtun language and indicated a detailed plan of action. Four AK-47 rifles and four under barrel grenade launchers along with ammunition were also recovered. According to the Indian Army, some of the items had Pakistani markings. This was denied by the National Investigation Agency.
The Diplomat noted that the timing of the attack coincided with the Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's visit to New York to address the United Nations General Assembly the following week. The Diplomat, in another article, said that the attack was "designed" to increase public pressure against the Modi government's engagement with Pakistan.
It also reported that there was specific intelligence input from the Intelligence Bureau two days earlier that an attack was being planned against army formations close to the LOC. The intelligence agency had said that three fidayeen squads were launched from Pakistan-administered Kashmir. One of them attacked Uri, another went to Poonch where it was engaged by the security forces, and the third is believed to be targeting Srinagar highway. The India Today Television mentioned that, according to unnamed intelligence sources, Pakistan was plotting a "spectacular event" ahead of Nawaz Sharif's speech to the UN General Assembly.
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After a few years of relative calm in Indian-administered Kashmir -- largely considered one of the world's most tumultuous geopolitical flashpoints since the India-Pakistan partition -- the region has been gripped by unrest for more than two months.
Pakistan on Tuesday promptly rejected Indian allegations of its involvement in the Uri army base attack, soon after Indian authorities said they had shared "evidence" with Pakistan High Commissioner to New Delhi Abdul Basit.
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