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New Delhi: Home minister Rajnath Singh on Thursday blamed Pakistani militants for the attack on a Border Security Force (BSF) patrol in Udhampur a day earlier even as he stressed government’s commitment to keep the country safe.

In a statement to both houses of Parliament, Singh said preliminary inquiries show that the “two terrorists who attacked BSF convoy in Udhampur yesterday (Wednesday) were Pakistanis."

Two militants ambushed a BSF convoy, killing two and injuring 11 others near Narsu Nallah, some 15km from the headquarters of the Northern Command of the Indian Army. In the ensuing gun battle, one militant was killed and the other captured.

In Islamabad, Pakistan foreign office spokesman Qazi M. Khalilullah on Thursday refused to be drawn into answering queries about the nationality of the militant caught alive. “I will not comment on media reports. We expect Indian authorities to share necessary information about him with us to enable verification of his national status," he said at a regular foreign office briefing.

Wednesday’s attack was one of the many in Kashmir in recent weeks. It also follows another on a police station on 27 July in Gurdaspur in Punjab. The attack on the police station killed 10, including several policemen. Singh had accused Pakistan-based militants for the Gurdaspur attack.

On Thursday, Singh said the government in New Delhi “was committed to provide security to the people by taking the strongest possible steps."

“We strongly condemn the attack and the persistent attempts by terrorists from across the border to vitiate the peaceful atmosphere in Kashmir," the home minister said.

He also disclosed that there were five infiltration attempts within a month from across the border, four of which were foiled by the security forces, who killed eight terrorists.

The attacks come at a time when India and Pakistan were taking steps towards a rapprochement.

At the meeting in the eastern Russian city of Ufa on 10 July, Prime Ministers of India and Pakistan had agreed to hold talks on terrorism at the level of national security advisors (NSAs).

They had also decided to hold talks at the level of BSF chiefs and senior military officers to ensure cross-border firing, that had intensified in recent months, was brought under control.

Cross-border firing is a violation of a 2003 ceasefire pact agreed to between India and Pakistan. India had considered it a major confidence building measure since its implementation in November 2003.

Despite the provocation of the attacks by Pakistani militants in recent weeks, India seems determined to keep the dialogue between the NSAs on track. India has suggested 23-24 August for the talks and is awaiting a confirmation from Pakistan, a person familiar with the developments said. In Islamabad, Khalilullah confirmed the 23-24 August dates proposed by India and added: “These dates are under consideration of our government. It is premature to talk about the agenda of the meeting which will be prepared in due course."

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