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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

India Wins Costly Fight For Summit




DRAS, India -- The Indian army recaptured a towering peak close to the frontier with Pakistan in a fierce battle after dawn Tuesday that claimed dozens of casualties, officers said.


The fighting came after India made clear to an envoy from Islamabad on the weekend it was determined to evict all the Pakistani fighters who seized a range of mountains in Indian-controlled Kashmir. Infantrymen clambered up Point 4700, known by its height in meters, and stormed the 13 guerrilla positions on the mountain five kilometers from the cease-fire line.


The guerrillas retreated, then launched a counterattack.


Reporters near the town of Dras could see the soldiers in white snow boots and helmets making their way up the precipitous slopes toward the battle.


India pummeled the mountain throughout the night with thousands of artillery shells, sending plumes of smoke into the sky, to prepare for the assault.


Initial and unconfirmed reports said five Indian soldiers were killed and 20 wounded. Officers estimated as many as two dozen fighters were killed on the other side.


India has been fighting to reclaim the heights in the disputed Kashmir region since guerrilla fighters moved in seven weeks ago. India claims the fighters are backed by Pakistan and the two countries, which both have nuclear arms, have been exchanging fire across the Kashmir cease-fire line.


Islamabad has denied it supports the guerrillas, but last week the Pakistan army chief appeared to acknowledge his troops were fighting. India and Pakistan have fought three wars, two over Kashmir, which both countries claim as their own. The Himalayan region was divided between the two nations in 1972 along the so-called Line of Control. Meanwhile, India acknowledged diplomatic efforts to end the fighting had started.


The Foreign Ministry confirmed Monday that telephone calls and messages between Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and his Pakistani counterpart, Nawaz Sharif, have kept communications open between the two nuclear-armed neighbors.


Sharif met top Chinese leaders in Beijing on Tuesday before cutting off his trip early to deal with the Kashmir crisis.


Sharif was due to leave Beijing for home after an afternoon meeting with President Jiang Zemin, wrapping up an official visit to Pakistan's closest ally in the region that had been scheduled to last until Saturday, Chinese officials said.