LoC attack kills 5 jawans

SoldiersSoldiers pay tribute to their five slain colleagues in Poonch on Tuesday evening. PTI

In a deadly cross-border attack, five Indian Army personnel were killed and a sixth was injured by a group which the government said comprised "20 heavily armed terrorists along with persons dressed in Pakistan army uniforms" near the Line of Control (LoC) early on Tuesday morning.

The incident comes days after Pakistan expressed a desire to resume the stalled peace talks with India and a meeting between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his counterpart Nawaz Sharif was being fixed.

The attack occurred at the Chakkan Da Bagh area in Poonch, which is a border trading point, in the early hours of Tuesday when six Indian Army personnel were patrolling the LoC, several hundred metres ahead of the border fencing but 450 metres within the Indian side of the boundary.

In his statement in Parliament, Defence Minister A K Antony said the men were ambushed on "our side of the LoC", but stopped short of blaming regular Pakistan army troops for the attack. "The ambush was carried out by approximately 20 heavily armed terrorists along with persons dressed in Pakistan army uniforms," he said.

This was at variance with the Army's statement which said the attack was carried out by terrorists "along with soldiers of Pak army". The Army also said the attack was carried out by a "Pak Border Action Team". However, within hours, the Army's statement was revised to reflect what Antony had said in Parliament, to the effect that "persons dressed in Pakistan army uniforms" took part in the attack. No explanation was given for the revision.

But Army sources backed the original statement, saying that soldiers of Pakistan's 801 Mujahid battalion took part in the attack along with militants. "It was a well-planned and coordinated attack that clearly involved regular troops of the Pakistan army. It was a Pakistan Border Action Team (BAT) that executed the attack," said these sources.

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