India blames Pakistan-based insurgents for air base attack

AP News
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Posted: Dec 19, 2016 6:11 AM

NEW DELHI (AP) — Indian investigators said Monday that they have determined that the leader of a Pakistan-based militant group and three others should face trial for an attack on a military air base in northern India that left seven Indian soldiers dead last January.

The National Investigative Agency said it filed a charge sheet against the four in a court. It said phone intercepts suggest that the four gunmen in the Jan. 2 attack came from Pakistan and were killed by Indian forces.

Empty food packets manufactured in Pakistan and other food articles from the country were recovered from the forest route taken by the attackers to reach the Indian air base, the charge sheet said.

There was no immediate reaction from Pakistan, but it is unlikely to extradite Maulana Masood Azhar, the chief of the Jaish-e-Mohammad group, or three other group members to face trial in India.

The agency said its investigation established that the attackers were trained, motivated and radicalized in Pakistan by Azhar and his brother Mufti Abdul Rauf. India accuses Pakistan of harboring and training militants, a charge Islamabad denies.

India has asked the U.N. Security Council sanctions committee to designate Azhar as a terrorist. But China, which has long-standing ties with Pakistan, has so far blocked India's bid.

The group is already blacklisted in India.

India called off official dialogue with Pakistan to discuss the Kashmir dispute and other irritants after the Jan. 2 attack.

Azhar had spent several years in an Indian jail — where he was held for attacks in Indian-controlled Kashmir — but was released in exchange for passengers of a hijacked Indian Airlines plane in 1999.

Kashmir is divided between India and Pakistan, who have fought two wars over its control since 1947. Insurgent groups have been fighting for Kashmir's independence from India or its merger with Pakistan since 1989.