Nearly four dozen suspects have been arrested in connection to last month’s suicide bombing in Kashmir that killed 40 Indian troops, Pakistan’s Interior Ministry said Tuesday.
The ministry said 44 suspects, including two prominent members of the outlawed Jaish-e-Mohammad militant group were taken into custody, in a move toward easing tensions between Pakistan and India that escalated after the Feb. 14 suicide attack.
Jaish-e-Mohammad claimed responsibility for the attack that pushed India and Pakistan closer to war over contested Kashmir.
Among those arrested was Mufti Abdul Rauf, the brother of the group’s leader, Masood Azhar.
According to the ministry, Rauf was among a list of suspects in a file on last month’s bombing that India gave to Pakistan over the weekend through diplomatic channels, urging Islamabad to take action against suspects linked to the killing of its soldiers in the region, which is split between Pakistan and India and is claimed by both in its entirety.
Hammad Azhar, the brother-in-law of Masood Azhar, was also detained.
At a news conference, Pakistan Interior Secretary Azam Suleman Khan said Pakistan will take further action against suspects linked to the attack in Indian Kashmir if New Delhi provides additional evidence to Islamabad.
“So far India has not given evidence,” he said. “We received only some names” in connection with the suicide attack.
He said the 44 suspects detained across the country belonged to a number of groups, not just Jaish-e-Mohammad.
The arrests were announced just hours after Pakistan’s navy claimed an Indian submarine approached their territorial waters in the Arabian Sea.
The navy said the Indian submarine wasn’t targeted by Pakistan’s navy because of the country’s “policy of peace” and cited recent efforts to de-escalate the growing tension with India.
In India, a spokesman for the navy, Capt. D.K. Sharma, said that the navy “remains deployed as necessary to protect National Maritime Interests. Over the past several days we have witnessed Pakistan indulging in false propaganda and spread of misinformation."
Still, an uneasy calm prevailed Tuesday along the Line of Control, which divides Kashmir between Pakistan and India, and which saw an intense exchange of fire between the two nuclear-armed rivals last week, killing several people and at least two Pakistani soldiers.
Tensions between Pakistan and India increased last week when New Delhi launched a retaliatory strike in the northwestern town of Balakot, saying its air force hit a terrorist training camp and killed “a very large number” of militants. Pakistan said the strike only damaged three trees in a forest.
However, Islamabad responded by shooting down two Indian warplanes and capturing a pilot, Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, who was returned to India at the Wagah border near the eastern city of Lahore as a peace gesture.
Since then, the two sides have exercised restraint amid calls from the international community for avoiding war.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.