Indian soldier kills three comrades in occupied Kashmir

Updated 21 Mar 2019

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Since 2004, there have been 80 incidents of “fratricide” and 323 suicides, rights group JKCCS says. — AFP/File
Since 2004, there have been 80 incidents of “fratricide” and 323 suicides, rights group JKCCS says. — AFP/File

A paramilitary trooper in Indian-occupied Kashmir shot dead three of his comrades early on Thursday, officials said, as fresh violence raged in the restive territory where 40 troops died in a bombing last month.

Separately, an Indian soldier was killed in the latest exchange of fire with Pakistani forces across the de-facto Line of Control (LoC) border since last month's stand-off.

Local police said the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) trooper opened fire on his colleagues with his service rifle at a camp in Udhampur, some 200 kilometres (125 miles) south of the main city Srinagar.

Read: Accidents, suicides account for death of 1,600 Indian troops annually

“He shot himself too and is in a critical condition at a hospital,” Jammu police official MK Sinha told AFP, saying the man “may have been under the influence of drugs”.

According to rights group Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS), 20 Indian armed forces personnel killed themselves in 2018, the most in a decade. Since 2004 there have been 80 incidents of “fratricide” and 323 suicides, it says.

Experts say that the factors include stress, long duty hours, denial of leave and domestic issues, prompting authorities to initiate de-stressing initiatives for soldiers such as yoga.

Separately on Thursday morning, another Indian soldier was killed when the two nations again exchanged fire across the LoC near the southern area of Sundarbani, Indian army spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Devender Anand told AFP.

On February 14, a suicide bombing had killed 40 CRPF troopers. India and Pakistan then carried out air strikes, with the former downing two Indian aircraft and capturing an Indian pilot, which alarmed the international community.

Tensions have since eased but cross-LoC fire has continued, as have gun battles between Kashmiri fighters and Indian security forces.

Two such clashes raged separately in the northern Kashmir valley on Thursday. Two police officers were wounded when fighters lobbed a grenade within a cordoned area amid an exchange of fire.