India indicts Pakistani militant in 2019 Kashmir bombing

India indicts Pakistani militant in 2019 Kashmir bombing
India’s anti-terrorism agency named Pakistan-based militant leader Masood Azhar as the prime mastermind in a 2019 car bombing in Indian-controlled Kashmir that killed 40 Indian soldiers and brought two nuclear-armed rival nations to the brink of war. (File/AP)
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Updated 26 August 2020

India indicts Pakistani militant in 2019 Kashmir bombing

India indicts Pakistani militant in 2019 Kashmir bombing
  • The Feb. 14, 2019, bombing was the single deadliest attack in the divided region, and escalated tensions between India and Pakistan

NEW DELHI: India’s anti-terrorism agency named a Pakistan-based militant leader as the prime mastermind of a 2019 car bombing in Indian-controlled Kashmir that killed 40 Indian soldiers and brought the nuclear-armed rivals to the brink of war.
The National Investigation Agency filed a charge sheet on Tuesday that named Masood Azhar, chief of Jaish-e-Mohammed, and 19 others among the accused.
“The investigation has revealed that the Pulwama attack was the result of a well-planned criminal conspiracy hatched by Pakistan-based leadership of terrorist organization Jaish-e-Mohammad,” the document says.
Jaish-e-Mohammad, which is based in Pakistan, had claimed responsibility for the bombing, according to media reports, even though the attacker was identified as a Kashmiri militant. A prerecorded nine-minute video, circulated on social media, showed the purported attacker in combat clothes and surrounded by guns and grenades hours before he rammed an explosives-laden van into a paramilitary convoy.
The Feb. 14, 2019, bombing was the single deadliest attack in the divided region, and escalated tensions between India and Pakistan. In response, India launched an airstrike against suspected militant training camps inside Pakistan, saying it hit one and killed “a very large number” of militants. Pakistan said the strike only damaged three trees in a forest.
Islamabad then responded by shooting down an Indian warplane and capturing a pilot, who was then returned to India as a peace gesture.
India has long accused Pakistan of cultivating militant groups in a proxy war against New Delhi. Pakistan denies the charge.
The conflict in Kashmir dates back to the late 1940s, when India and Pakistan won independence from Britain and fought two wars over the Himalayan region.


Greece, France to sign $2.8 billion fighter jet deal amid Turkey tensions

Greece, France to sign $2.8 billion fighter jet deal amid Turkey tensions
Updated 25 January 2021

Greece, France to sign $2.8 billion fighter jet deal amid Turkey tensions

Greece, France to sign $2.8 billion fighter jet deal amid Turkey tensions
  • Florence Parly, the French defense minister, signed the agreement in Athens to deliver 12 used and six new aircraft
  • France has sided with Greece in a dispute with Turkey over boundaries in the Aegean Sea and eastern Mediterranean

ATHENS, Greece: Greece signed a 2.3 billion-euro ($2.8 billion) deal with France on Monday to purchase 18 Rafale fighter jets, as tensions remain high with neighbor Turkey.
Florence Parly, the French defense minister, signed the agreement in Athens to deliver 12 used and six new aircraft built by Dassault Aviation over two years, starting in July.
France has sided with Greece in a dispute over boundaries in the Aegean Sea and eastern Mediterranean that has brought NATO members Greece and Turkey to the brink of war several times in recent decades.
Tension spiked again last summer when a Turkish exploration mission in disputed waters triggered a dangerous military build-up.
Greece and Turkey have agreed to restart talks aimed at resolving the dispute peacefully. Senior diplomats from the two countries met in Istanbul Monday to resume the process that had been interrupted for nearly five years.
But Athens says it will continue a multibillion-euro program to upgrade its military following years of cuts due to the country’s financial crisis.
France and the United States are in competition to provide the Greek navy with new frigates, while Greece’s government recently approved plans to cooperate with Israeli defense electronics firm Elbit Systems to create a new military flight academy in southern Greece.
“The upgrade in the capabilities of the Hellenic Air Force by means of both the acquisition of new fighter aircraft and the new state-of-the-art training center is critical for Greece to present a credible deterrence,” Michael Tanchum, a senior fellow at the Austrian Institute for European and Security Policy, told The Associated Press.
“It also provides Athens an enhanced ability to exercise more strategic autonomy when EU and NATO frameworks are deemed inadequate, making Greece more of a player in its own right.”
Starting in May, mandatory national service in the Greek Armed Forces will be increased from nine to 12 months to boost the number of people serving in uniform. While in Athens, Parly will also holding talks with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.