Pakistan: Indian fire kills soldier, 2 civilians in Kashmir

Above, a general view of Bandla Valle near the Line of Control in Pakistan-administered Kashmir in this October 1, 2016 photo. (AFP)
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Updated 30 April 2020

Pakistan: Indian fire kills soldier, 2 civilians in Kashmir

  • Pakistan military blames Indian troops for initiating an ‘unprovoked cease-fire violation’
  • Pakistani and Indian troops often trade accusations of violating the cease-fire in Kashmir

MUZAFFARABAD, Pakistan: Indian artillery fire in the disputed Kashmir region hit Pakistani army posts and villages killing a soldier, a woman and a 16-year-old girl, Pakistani military and government officials said Thursday.
In a statement, the military blamed Indian troops for initiating an “unprovoked cease-fire violation” in the villages of Kailer and Rakhchikri along the Line of Control on Wednesday night.
It said Pakistani troops responded and there were reports of heavy losses to Indian troops. The military said a 10-year-old boy and a woman were also wounded because of the Indian firing.
Lt. Col. Devender Anand, an Indian army spokesman, said Pakistani troops attacked Indian positions with small arms and mortar shells in at least four places Wednesday evening. He called the firing an “unprovoked” violation of a 2003 cease-fire accord between the two countries.
Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry said Thursday it summoned an Indian diplomat in Islamabad in protest and conveyed to New Delhi that such cease-fire violations were posing a threat to regional peace and security.
Pakistani and Indian troops often trade accusations of violating the cease-fire in Kashmir, which is divided between them and claimed by both in its entirety.
Pakistani district administration official Mohammad Yousaf said Indian artillery fire hit Pakistani posts and two villages as residents were breaking their dawn-to-dusk fast as part of the holy month of Ramadan. At least three homes located near the Line of Control were damaged, he said.
Sardar Masood Khan, president of the Pakistani Kashmir, condemned what he said was the latest cease-fire violation by India, alleging the Indian army targeted civilians.
Anand said Indian troops responded “befittingly” and no casualties on the Indian side were reported.
Pakistan and India have traded fire in Kashmir in recent weeks despite both countries’ struggles to contain the spread of the coronavirus that has killed 346 people in Pakistan and at least 1,079 in India. Pakistan has repeatedly called for unity among South Asian nations to fight the virus.


UK sees rise in Islamist extremist cases referred to counter radicalization program

Updated 27 November 2020

UK sees rise in Islamist extremist cases referred to counter radicalization program

  • Cases involving Islamist extremism increase for first time in four years
  • Program aims to spot people who could go on to commit terrorist acts

LONDON: The number of people referred to the UK government’s counter extremism program has jumped amid concerns over increased radicalization among young people.
Cases involving Islamist extremism increased by 6 percent from 1,404 to 1,487. The numbers, which represent individuals of concern referred to the Prevent scheme between April 2019 and March 2020, mark the first year-on-year increase for Islamist cases since 2016.
While far-right cases remained steady compared to the previous year at 1,388, overall the number of people referred to the program rose 10 percent.
The rise in Islamist cases comes after a recent surge of attacks across Europe. Last month a school teacher was beheaded by an extremist after he had shown his class cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed in a freedom of speech discussion. Days later, three people were killed in a terrorist attack at a church in Nice.
In the UK, three people were killed in a knife attack on London Bridge almost a year ago.
The UK’s Prevent program is part of its wider counter-terrorism strategy and aims to safeguard people from becoming terrorists or supporting terrorism.
The most serious cases are referred to a panel known as “Channel,” which then decides what further action to take. Of the 697 cases that reached the panel, most were related to the far-right (302), while 210 were linked to Islamist extremism. 
More than half of all referrals were aged under 20.
Security Minister James Brokenshire said the Prevent strategy was an essential strand to the UK’s counter-terror strategy.
“It is about supporting vulnerable individuals, steering them away from terrorism, and protecting our communities,” he told the Royal United Services Institute on Thursday.
Last week the head of counter-terror policing in the UK, Neil Basu, said that while Islamist terrorists remained the greatest threat to Britain, the far right is growing faster.
He said COVID-19 had created a “perfect storm” with young and vulnerable people spending more time alone and online.