A bloody clash between India’s security forces and the Pakistani Taliban has left nearly 150 people dead and tens of thousands injured.
Key points:A curfew is in place across India, with military helicopters flying overheadThe Indian military says at least 150 people have died in the violence, including 12 Indian soldiersTwo other Pakistani Taliban members have been killed in the fightingIndia has said it has killed a number of Taliban fighters but has refused to provide further detailsIndia and Pakistan are technically still at war, with a ceasefire agreement signed in 2014 but not fully implemented.
Both countries have launched air strikes in recent months to try to drive back the Taliban, who have been backed by Iran and Russia.
The latest escalation comes after Indian and Pakistani officials signed a “mutual understanding” to end the “terrible, long-standing conflict”.
Indian defence officials said in a statement on Tuesday that Pakistani military helicopters had targeted a number “of terrorist bases” in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) province in recent days.
It was not immediately clear how many of the dead were civilians.
“The Indian Air Force has conducted aerial raids in FATA, along with air-to-ground operations to bring the situation under control,” the statement said.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Tuesday in a tweet that “India has been working to bring peace to Pakistan” but that it was “unacceptable” that the Pakistani military was targeting civilian areas.
“Our nation is fully prepared to take every step to bring about peace in the region, but it is unacceptable that the terrorist groups target civilians,” Mr Modi said.
India has already imposed a series of retaliatory measures on Pakistan, including a ban on imports of food, a ban of travel to FATA and restrictions on trade and economic ties with the country.
A curfew in India is in effect across the country, with all businesses, factories and tourist facilities shut down.
Indian media reported that the curfew was lifted for about an hour on Tuesday.
“As per our previous agreements, all military operations, including aerial operations, were stopped, and military aircraft were flying overhead,” Defence Minister A K Antony told reporters.
“We have been working with Pakistan to end this dreadful conflict, which is in violation of international law,” he said.
“It has caused deep sorrow to all the families and all the Indian citizens, including our soldiers.”
The ceasefire was signed in February after the two countries signed an interim deal to end a three-decade-old war.
“I would like to thank the people of Pakistan for the efforts to end it.
The ceasefire has been in place for the last one year, but I hope it can be extended for the next one year,” Mr Antony said.
Prime Minister Narendra Singh said on Wednesday that India and Pakistani forces would not be able to “live with the terrorists” as long as the Taliban is in power.
“All the terrorist organisations will be defeated, as long they have Pakistan as their primary target,” Mr Singh said in New Delhi.
“If the Pakistani government doesn’t understand this, then they should go back to their countries, they should understand that this is an extremely dangerous place to live,” he added.
India’s army chief Gen Ashok Gehlot said on Twitter that Pakistani forces had “hit and killed” several people, including women and children, and that they were also attacking security forces in the Federally Armed Districts (FADs).
He said the attacks were “unfortunate and unprovoked”.
India has deployed several troops in FADs since the truce was signed, and is conducting a number strikes in the area.
The ceasefire will remain in place until at least March 27, India’s defence ministry said.