ISIS announces new 'branch' in India
Srinagar, May 12 : The Islamic State militant group has claimed to have established a new "province" in India, the first of its kind announcement that came after clashes between militants and security forces in Kashmir on May 10.
The Arabic name of the new branch is "Wilayah of Hind" (India Province), the militant outfit, (also known as ISIS and ISIL), said through its Amaq News Agency.
A senior police officer has rejected the claim.
Rita Katz, director of the SITE Intel Group that tracks Islamic extremists, said: "ISIS declares its new ‘Hind Province’ while claiming clashes with Indian forces in Amshipora".
"Of course, the establishment of a 'province' in a region where it has nothing resembling actual governance is absurd, but it should not be written off," she said on Twitter.
ISIS did not elaborate on the branch's geographical remit as it mentioned the name of its new branch in a low-key announcement.
The announcement of the new branch is seen as part of ISIS' strategy to give the impression of strengthening its global affiliations following the territorial losses in the Middle East.
Such a strategy was highlighted by ISIS chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in the past.
The brief ISIS statement of May 10 via the messaging app Telegram said that the Islamic State militants using machine guns had clashed with the Indian security forces in the village of Amshipora in Kashmir's Shopian district, killing or injuring a number of them.
The statement, however, did not mention when the alleged clashes occurred.
Media reports on May 10 said that one militant was killed in an encounter with security forces in Shopian district.
Pertinently, ISIS had started claiming attacks against Indian security forces in Kashmir since November 2017 without any branch affiliation.
Previously, ISIS attacks in Kashmir were linked to its so-called Khorasan Province branch, which was set up in 2015 to cover "Afghanistan, Pakistan and nearby lands".