In a first ISIS claims ‘province’ in India after Shopian gunfight

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JK Bank

The Islamic State for the first time has announced a  branch in India, introducing it on 10 May in a claim about Shopian encounter.

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 army soldiers in  Amshipora area in the Shopian district of Kashmir.

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“The world may roll its eyes at these developments, but to jihadists in these vulnerable regions, these are significant gestures to help lay the groundwork in rebuilding the map of the IS ‘caliphate’.”

The new branch, whose Arabic name is “Wilayah of Hind” (India Province), was not declared in a special announcement, nor did IS elaborate on its geographical remit. Instead it was introduced in passing in a statement claiming clashes in Kashmir.

Such a low-key announcement is in line with IS’s media behaviour regarding new branches in the aftermath of its territorial losses in late 2017.

The brief IS statement of 10 May via the messaging app Telegram said that IS militants using machine guns had clashed with “the infidel Indian army in the village of Amshipora in Shopian [district], Kashmir, killing or injuring a number of them”. It did not say when the alleged clashes

On Friday one militant was killed in a gunfight with security forces in Indian-administered Kashmir’s Shopian district, precisely in Amshipora village.

IS started claiming attacks against Indian security forces i Kashmir in November 2017, offering no branch affiliation.

But by March 2018, IS attacks in Kashmir, most of which have been unremarkable, were assigned to the group’s so-called Khorasan Province branch, which was set up in 2015 to cover “Afghanistan, Pakistan and nearby lands”.

The latest branch addition is likely to be part of IS’s strategy to strengthen its global affiliations – or at least give the impression of doing so – following the group’s territorial losses in the Middle East.

By declaring this India “branch”, IS may also be seeking to capitalise on the deadly Sri Lanka attacks of 21 April, which the group had claimed, to raise the spectre of the IS threat in South Asia, BBC Monitoring said.