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India to buy guns worth $553m for border troops

An Indian paramilitary trooper stands guard in Srinagar on January 15. At least nine people including four Pakistani soldiers were killed in recent fighting in disputed Kashmir. (AFP)
NEW DELHI: India will buy more than 160,000 guns worth $553 million for troops on its disputed, high-altitude borders, the defense ministry said on Tuesday.
The defense acquisition council cleared the purchase of 72,400 assault rifles and 93,895 carbines for 35 billion rupees ($553 million) in a meeting chaired by Defense Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.
The weapons will be bought to “enable the defense forces to meet their immediate requirement for the troops deployed on the borders,” the ministry said in a statement.
New Delhi has signed several big-ticket defense deals since Prime Minister Narendra Modi stormed to power in 2014.
India — the world’s largest defense importer — has been investing tens of billions in updating its Soviet-era military hardware to counter long-standing territorial disputes with its nuclear-armed neighbors China and Pakistan.
India and China fought a brief war in 1962 over their border and last year were involved in a months-long showdown over a disputed Himalayan plateau.
India is also mired in conflict in the Himalayan region of Kashmir where roughly 500,000 soldiers are deployed.
New Delhi accuses Islamabad of sending “terrorists” across the border — one of the most heavily militarised in the world — to fight security forces in Indian-administered Kashmir.
Kashmir has been divided between India and Pakistan since the end of British rule in 1947, with both claiming the territory in its entirety.
India has fought three wars against Pakistan, two of them over the control of Kashmir.

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