–The United Nations is calling on India and Pakistan to take steps to reduce tensions and is offering to mediate if both sides agree.
“We are deeply concerned at the increase in tensions between the two countries in the wake of the attack,” Stephane Dujarric, spokesman for UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, said Tuesday at a news briefing.
Dujarric was referring to an incident on Feb. 14 in Indian-administered Kashmir when an attacker rammed his explosives-laden car into a bus carrying Indian paramilitary police in Pulwama district, killing at least 44 of them.
Jaish-e-Mohammad, a militant group in Jammu and Kashmir, claimed responsibility and released a video on social media of the 22-year-old suicide bomber.
The Indian government has blamed Pakistan for the attack, a claim rejected by Islamabad.
“The secretary general stresses the importance of both sides to exercise maximum restraint and take immediate steps towards de-escalation,” Dujarric said.
He also said the UN would be available to offer a mediating role “should both sides ask”.
Guterres is said to have also been scheduled to meet with Pakistan’s UN envoy Tuesday.
Michelle Bachelet, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said she is concerned by reports from India that some elements are using the Pulwama attack as justification for threats and potential acts of violence targeting Kashmiri and Muslim communities.
Jammu and Kashmir, a Muslim-majority Himalayan region, is held by India and Pakistan in parts and claimed by both in full. A small sliver of Kashmir is also held by China.
Since they were partitioned in 1947, the two countries have fought three wars — in 1948, 1965 and 1971 — two of them over Kashmir.