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Modi, Sharif shake hand, but unable to ease border tension

Nevertheless, the handshake did not ease tensions at the borders where three army personnel and as many militants and civilians were killed in a fierce gun battle that broke out between security forces and militants who had sneaked into Arnia sector along international border in Jammu district in India.

On their brief interaction, Indian External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said, “Let’s not read too many things into courtesies that are being extended.” “Baat bhi hui mulaqaat bhi hui (they met and also talked),” he said but categorically denied that there was any ‘one-on-one’ contact between Modi and Sharif. During their brief interaction towards the end of the summit, Modi put his hand on Sharif’s arm as the two leaders looked at cameras with a long handshake even as they exchanged a few sentences.

The brief Modi-Sharif bonhomie was summed up by a tweet by Akbaruddin, saying it was ‘the photo all were waiting for.’ While in the Indian terrain during the firing, three civilians were also killed and two others were injured in the fresh bloodletting that came ahead of Modi’s visit to Jammu region on Friday.

Modi is slated to campaign for BJP in second phase of assembly elections in Udhampur and Poonch districts of Jammu division. Modi will address a rally in Udhampur district, which is 100 km from Arnia.

Meanwhile, Army troops foiled an infiltration bid along the Line of Control (LoC) in Rajouri district and arrested a suspected armed militant. “Three army personnel and as many militants have been killed in the attack in Arnia sector in Jammu,” said an Army source.

“As per initial reports from the area, a group of militants numbering between two to four infiltrated from Arnia belt of Jammu district and resorted to firing,” said a police officer adding the security grid of Army, BSF and Police swung into action and launched a cordon and search for the militants this morning. Army sources said the militants occupied a vacant bunker of Army’s 92 infantry brigade in Pindi Khattar belt of Arnia border sector of Jammu district. A fierce encounter broke out between hiding militants and security forces in which three militants were reported to have been killed, they said.

The encounter was on when the reports last came in from the area. A car has also been seized in the area which might have been used by the militants. Security has been beefed up by BSF along the border and also in Jammu city, Udhampur and Poonch areas.

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