Pakistan army says Indian fire kills 3 soldiers in Kashmir

A military statement said the “unprovoked cease-fire violation” took place Monday in Rawalakot in the Pakistan-controlled part of Kashmir. (File photo: AFP)
Updated 26 December 2017
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Pakistan army says Indian fire kills 3 soldiers in Kashmir

ISLAMABAD: Three Pakistani soldiers have been killed by Indian fire across the Line of Control in the disputed Kashmir region, Pakistani officials said Tuesday.
A military statement said the “unprovoked cease-fire violation” took place Monday in Rawalakot in the Pakistan-controlled part of Kashmir. It came two days after India’s army said four of its soldiers had been killed by Pakistani fire along the de facto border between the South Asian rivals.
In the latest shooting, the Indian military said that its soldiers targeted Pakistani posts after the Pakistani side had targeted their positions. The Indian troops did not suffer any casualties, officials said.
The incident happened hours after the wife and mother of an imprisoned Indian naval officer who faces the death penalty in Pakistan for espionage and sabotage were allowed to meet with him in Islamabad.
The situation remained tense in some of the Pakistan-controlled part of Kashmir, with residents fleeing to safer places in the region.
After Saturday’s shooting, the Indian military said in a statement that the soldiers’ killings “will not go in vain.” India said Pakistani soldiers had violated the 2003 cease-fire accord by targeting Indian forward posts in the Rajouri sector.
Pakistan’s army and the foreign ministry did not respond to the Indian claims.
India and Pakistan have a long history of bitter relations over the Himalayan territory of Kashmir, which is claimed by both in its entirety. Both countries have repeatedly accused the other of initiating border skirmishes that led to the deaths of soldiers and civilians.
They have fought two of their three wars over the region since they gained independence from British colonial rule in 1947.
Meanwhile, India accused Pakistan of violating mutual understandings on a meeting Tuesday of an Indian naval officer facing the death penalty in Pakistan for espionage and sabotage with his wife and mother in Islamabad.
It was the first meeting between Kulbhushan Jadhav and his family since he was arrested in March 2016 after allegedly entering the country from Iran.
A Pakistani military tribunal found Jadhav guilty of espionage and sabotage and sentenced him to death, but India obtained an order from the International Court of Justice to halt the execution.
Indian External Affairs Ministry spokesman Raveesh Kumar said that contrary to assurances, the overall atmosphere of the meeting was intimidating insofar as family members were concerned.
During the meeting, Jadhav was seen sitting behind a glass screen in the Pakistani Foreign Office while his mother and wife sat on the other side. They spoke through an intercom for nearly 40 minutes.
Pakistani Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Faisal said Pakistan allowed the meeting as a “humanitarian gesture” following a request from India. He said the visit was granted in accordance with Islamic customs despite Jadhav’s involvement in “acts of terrorism.”
Also on Tuesday, Indian troops killed a rebel commander in a gunfight in southern Samboora village in Indian-held Kashmir, police said.
Police called the killing of Noor Mohammed a “significant breakthrough.”
A statement by police blamed Mohammed for masterminding and coordinating a string of attacks, including an audacious strike recently by three militants near the highly secured airport in the region’s main city of Srinagar.
Anti-India protests and clashes followed as the fighting raged on Tuesday, with hundreds of residents hitting streets in solidarity with the rebels. Government forces fired shotgun pellets and tear gas to quell rock-throwing protesters. There were no immediate reports of injuries.


Bosnia swears in a three-man presidency dominated by nationalists

Updated 25 sec ago
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Bosnia swears in a three-man presidency dominated by nationalists

SARAJEVO: Bosnia swore-in its three new presidents on Tuesday, with all eyes on Serb nationalist Milorad Dodik, who will be the first to take the helm of a government riven by ethnic divides.
The three men will rotate seats every eight months under the complex peace deal that ended Bosnia's 1990s war and split power between its three main groups: Bosnian Muslims (Bosniaks), Serbs and Croats.
In October voters chose nationalists to represent the first two communities, in a sign of how tribalism continues to shape politics more than two decades after the war.
The three men took their oaths inside Sarajevo's Presidency building before several dozen ambassadors and politicians.
Dodik, a pro-Russian politician who is sanctioned by the US, will co-lead with Bosnian Muslim president Sefik Dzaferovic, who hails from the nationalist conservative SDA party, and Croat president Zeljko Komsic.
Komsic, a Social Democrat, is an outlier among the two nationalists and has called for a "Bosnia of citizens" that would transcend communal divisions.
But he is already facing attacks from the main right-wing Croat party that accuses him of betraying his people and now threatens to obstruct activity in parliament.
"It is currently very difficult to find a common denominator between Dodik, Komsic and Dzaferovic for constructive work," Bosnian political journalist Ranko Mavrak said in a radio interview.
"These three will have to decide whether they want to act as a body that seeks points of agreement or creates problems," he added.
While the Dayton Peace Accords that designed Bosnia's power-sharing arrangement ended a devastating war, critics say the system has entrenched communal divisions and hampered effective governance.
The country's unwieldy government is further complicated by two separate administrations in its highly-autonomous sub-regions: one for Serbs and one shared by Croats and Bosnian Muslims.
Those so-called 'entities' are strung together by weak central institutions.
Dodik's elevation to the top office could mark another blow to the fabric of a country he has previously skewered as a "failed concept."
The firebrand led Bosnia's Serb-run half for over a decade and periodically threatened to hold a referendum on its secession.
Last year the US placed him on a blacklist for undermining the country's peace agreement.
The 59-year-old seemed to soften his tone slightly after he was elected to the national presidency, saying he wants to work with Bosnian Croats and Muslims "in the interest of all."
On Tuesday he repeated his assurance that he did not want to "act to the detriment of anyone" and wished for "effective cooperation".
Political analyst Tanja Topic said the politician appeared to be making a "conciliatory gesture," though "it is still difficult to say whether Dodik will be constructive and whether he will work in the interest of the state."
A day earlier Dodik had repeated his demands to undo parts of the Dayton Peace Accords, including shutting down the office of the High Representative -- an international envoy that has been sent by the UN since 1995 to oversee the peace deal.
"My policy is not changing, it's just my workplace that's changing," he said on Monday.
Among ordinary Bosnians, there is little hope for major changes in a paralysed political system that has allowed corruption to flourish and stalled economic reforms for years.
Unemployment affects up to one third of the country, where large numbers are migrating abroad for work.
"There's nothing more to expect here," said Almir Korjenic, a 32-year-old applying for a work visa at the Slovenian embassy, summing up a widespread sense of political fatigue.
"(The politicians) fought each other before the elections to position themselves well after the elections and resume looting the country," he said.