India’s director general for military operations said that jihadists from Jaish-e-Mohammed, a Pakistan-based terrorist group, executed today’s deadly suicide assault on a military base in Jammu and Kashmir that killed 17 soliders and wounded dozens more. If confirmed, Jaish-e-Mohammed has launched two major attacks against bases on Indian soil in the past year.
Four heavily armed fighters attacked the military camp in the town of Uri, near the Line of Control which divides the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir with Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, in the early morning, according to The Times of India. The attackers lobbed grenades and opened fire on Indian troops encamped in Uri.
“The attack took place during a change of command, which means one unit was replacing another and soldiers were in temporary shelters,” DDNews reported. Many of the Indian casualties are reported to have been from the result of the detonation of a fuel depot and burning tents. Indian troops killed the four jihadists during an ensuing gunfight that lasted several hours.
After the attack, Lieutenant General Ranbir Singh, India’s Director General of Military Operations, accused Jaish-e-Mohammad of conducting the assault. Weapons with Pakistani markings are said to have been retrieved from the scene of the attack. According to The Times of India, a map written in Pashto that detailed the attack plan was recovered from the jihadists.
Today’s assault follows months of unrest in Jammu and Kashmir. Indian troops have killed more than 80 Kashmiris during violent protests in the wake of the killing of Burhan Wani, a military commander in the al Qaeda-linked Hizb-ul-Mujahideen, in July. Wani was a prolific recruiter and propagandist who used social media to encourage Muslims to wage “holy war” in Kashmir and “unfurl the flag of Islam on Delhi’s Red Fort.”
Like a similar assault that took place at Pathankot Air Force Base in Punjab province, India on Jan. 2, 2016, no group has claimed responsibility for the attack in Uri. In the Pathankot attack, three Indian security personnel were killed when a five man suicide assault team breached the perimeter of the airbase and engaged with troops. Indian intelligence officials said that they intercepted communications between the attackers and their handlers inside Pakistan, and also accused Jaish-e-Mohammed of executing the attack.
Jaish-e-Mohammed has participated in multiple terror attacks in India and has provided crucial aid to al Qaeda. Jaish-e-Mohammed was implicated along with the Lashkar-e-Taiba as being behind the Dec. 13, 2001, assault on the Indian Parliament building in New Delhi.
Some of Jaish-e-Mohammed top leaders have integrated with the global terror movement. Elements of Jaish-e-Mohammed have joined al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent, or AQIS, the newest regional branch of the global jihadist group, which was formed by al Qaeda emir Ayman al Zawahiri in September 2014.
Military facilities in India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan have been frequently targeted by jihadist groups based in the region. In one September 2014 attack, AQIS attempted to take over a Pakistani warship and fire missiles at nearby American warships with the help of Pakistani naval personnel.
Despite the mountain of evidence against Jaish-e-Mohammed and its emir, Masood Azhar, for their role in numerous terrorist attacks, Pakistan refuses to crack down on the group and its leader.