India says 'perplexed' by Kashmir border killings

PARIS (AFP) - Indian Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid said on Thursday he was "perplexed" by the killing of two Indian soldiers on the Pakistan border but stressed that a fragile peace process should not be derailed.

His comments came after Pakistan said one of its troops was killed by unprovoked Indian firing in the Line of Control, separating the disputed northern Himalayan state of Kashmir.

On Tuesday India said two of its soldiers were killed by Pakistani troops, including one who was beheaded. Pakistan has denied any responsibility.

New Delhi has in the past accused Islamabad of staging border attacks to deflect attention from domestic issues or to draw global attention to the Kashmir issue.

But Mr Khurshid said he had no answers this time.

"Why should this happen? It perplexes me. I don't think anyone on the other side of the border is achieving anything wholesome," Mr Khurshid told reporters in Paris after meeting with French counterpart Laurent Fabius.

"It's extremely shocking and unacceptable. We've even used the word barbaric and I can't imagine that anyone would disagree with that on any side of the border. If they take responsibility or not is another matter. We are still arguing about that.

"While we want some redress and want some transparency and accountability on this, whoever has tried to derail a wholesome peace process should not succeed," he added.

Mr Khurshid did not comment on the latest Pakistani claims.

Kashmir, a Muslim-majority territory, is claimed in full by both India and Pakistan but divided between the two. It has been the cause of two of their three wars since independence from Britain in 1947.

A ceasefire has been in force along the Line of Control since 2003 but there are sporadic violations on both sides.

Despite claims and counter-claims this week, both countries have appeared determined to prevent the killings from wrecking a fragile peace process.

This resumed in 2011 after being suspended by India over the 2008 attacks on Mumbai, which New Delhi blamed on Pakistan-based militants.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.