Indian soldier, girl die in Kashmir border skirmish

Relatives and friends carry the body of Ranjeet Singh, an Indian army soldier who was killed in cross-border firing with Pakistan. (AP)
Updated 18 July 2017
0

Indian soldier, girl die in Kashmir border skirmish

SRINAGAR: An Indian soldier and a young girl were killed Monday during a skirmish at the de facto border in Kashmir, officials said, just a day after four Pakistani soldiers were killed in a similar exchange.
Army spokesman Col. Rajesh Kalia said a soldier died when a mortar fired from Pakistan-controlled territory landed on a bunker, sparking fierce retaliatory fire.
A police officer, who asked to remain anonymous, said an 8-year-old girl was also killed in an exchange of fire across the Line of Control, and her mother was seriously injured.
The tit-for-tat exchange came after India justified firing a barrage that saw four Pakistani soldiers killed Sunday, saying it had the right to retaliate over “cease-fire violations” in the Kashmir region.
The military heads of India and Pakistan spoke by phone after Islamabad accused New Delhi of bombing one of its military vehicles Sunday, killing four of its troops in Pakistan-administered Kashmir.
In a statement following the call, the Indian army said: “All cease-fire violations were initiated by Pakistan Army and the Indian Army only responded appropriately to them.”
India was also targeting “armed intruders” attempting to cross the Line of Control — the de facto Kashmir border — in close proximity to Pakistani army posts, the statement added.
Kashmir has been divided between India and Pakistan since the end of British colonial rule in 1947. Both claim the Himalayan territory in full and the countries have fought two wars over the region.
The neighbors regularly exchange mortar fire across the border despite signing a cease-fire in 2003.
The Indian army said it wanted peace at the border but “reserved the right to retaliate appropriately” for cease-fire violations.
Tensions between the two sides reached dangerous levels last September, with both sides blaming one another for cross-border raids.
In November, at least nine people were killed when Indian cross-border fire hit a passenger bus in the Neelum Valley, the same region where the four Pakistani troops were allegedly killed.
There have since been repeated outbreaks of firing across the frontier, with both sides reporting deaths and injuries including of civilians.


Indonesia jails former parliament speaker for 15 years over graft

Updated 39 min 2 sec ago
0

Indonesia jails former parliament speaker for 15 years over graft

JAKARTA: An Indonesian court on Tuesday sentenced the former speaker of parliament, Setya Novanto, to 15 years in jail for his role in causing state losses of around $170 million, linked to a national electronic identity card scheme.
The case has shocked Indonesians, already used to large corruption scandals and has reinforced a widely held perception that their parliament, long regarded as riddled with corruption, is a failing institution.
“The defendant is found guilty of conspiring to commit corruption and is sentenced to 15 years in prison and fined 500 million rupiah,” Yanto, the head of a panel of five judges, told the Jakarta court. The fine is equivalent to $36,000.
Novanto would be barred from holding public office for five years after serving his sentence and have to repay $7.3 million he was accused of plundering, added the judge, who goes by one name.
In a session that ran for more than three hours, judges read out dozens of case notes, including descriptions of where the former speaker held meetings to divvy up cash made from a mark-up on a contract for the identity card.
Novanto showed little emotion as the judge read the verdict.
After a quick consultation with his legal team, he told the court he would take some time to consider whether to appeal the sentence.
Novanto is accused of orchestrating a scheme to steal $173 million, or almost 40 percent of the entire budget for a government contract for the national identity card.
Prosecutors, who had questioned 80 witnesses in the case, had sought a jail term of at least 16 years for the former speaker.
Novanto, who had been implicated in five graft scandals since the 1990s but never convicted, was detained by investigators last November after repeatedly missing summonses for questioning over the case, saying he needed heart surgery.
Indonesians have to contend with high levels of graft in many areas of their lives and the country placed 96th among 180 countries in Transparency International’s annual corruption perceptions index last year, on par with Colombia and Thailand.