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India to respond to 'ghastly' attack on troops: minister

January 08, 2013

In this photograph taken on May 23, 2003 Indian army soldiers patrol in Jaran Walan Gali, an Indo-Pakistani border area, some 250 kms from Jammu. -AFP Photo

NEW DELHI: India's Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid said on Tuesday that New Delhi would give a “proportionate” response to the “ghastly” death of two soldiers in a firefight with Pakistani troops.

He said the incident, which took place up about half a kilometre inside Indian territory, according to the Indian army, was a “clear attempt to derail the dialogue” between the rivals whose relations have improved in recent years.

“We need to do something about this and we will, but it has to be done after careful consideration of all the details in consultation with the defence ministry,” Khurshid told the NDTV news channel.

“It is absolutely unacceptable, ghastly, and really, really terrible and extremely short-sighted by their part,” he added, promising that the response would be “proportionate”.

“This seems like a clear attempt to derail the dialogue,” he added.

“We have to find ways in which the dialogue is not sabotaged or destroyed.”

Indian defence analysts point to past attacks in India, allegedly staged or encouraged by Pakistani military and intelligence officials, in order to sabotage peace efforts and perpetuate hostilities between the nuclear-armed neighbours.

Diplomatic relations had been steadily improving in the last two years after India broke off a slow-moving peace process in the wake of the 2008 attacks on Mumbai, which were blamed on Pakistan-based militants.

Recent trust-building measures have included a new focus on boosting trade and encouraging cross-border visits through easier visa regimes.

Pakistan's cricket team was also given the greenlight to tour India for the first time in five years for a series that ended on Sunday.