Islamic State claims "province" in India for first time after clash in occupied Kashmir

Published: May 11, 2019
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PHOTO: AFP/FILE

PHOTO: AFP/FILE

The militant Islamic State (IS) claimed for the first time that it has established a “province” in India, after a clash between militants and
security forces in the occupied Kashmir region killed a militant with alleged ties to the group.

IS’s Amaq News Agency late on Friday announced the new
province, that it called “Wilayah of Hind”, in a statement that
also claimed IS inflicted casualties on Indian army soldiers in
the town of Amshipora in the Shopian district of Kashmir.

The IS statement corresponds with an Indian police statement
on Friday that a militant called Ishfaq Ahmad Sofi was killed in
an encounter in Shopian.

IS’s statement establishing the new province appears to be
designed to bolster its standing after the group was driven from
its self-styled “caliphate” in Iraq and Syria in April, where at
one point it controlled thousands of miles of territory.

IS has stepped up hit-and-run raids and suicide attacks,
including taking responsibility for the Easter Sunday bombing in
Sri Lanka that killed at least 253 people.

“The establishment of a ‘province’ in a region where it has
nothing resembling actual governance is absurd, but it should
not be written off,” said Rita Katz, director of the SITE Intel
Group that tracks terrorists. “The world may roll its eyes at these developments, but to militants in these vulnerable regions, these are significant gestures to help lay the groundwork in rebuilding the map of the IS ‘caliphate’.”

Freedom fighters have for decades fought an armed conflict against Indian occupation in Muslim-majority Kashmir.

They have not, like Islamic State, sought to establish an empire across the Muslim world. Nuclear powers India and Pakistan have fought two wars over Kashmir and came to the brink of a third earlier this year after a suicide attack killed at least 40 paramilitary police in IoK. A spokesman for India’s home ministry, which is responsible
for security in Kashmir, did not respond to a request for
comment.

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