China has put on hold a request by Britain, France and the United States to add the leader of a Pakistan-based armed group behind a suicide attack in Kashmir to the UN terror blacklist.

In a note sent to the UN Security Council, China on Wednesday said it needed more time to examine the sanctions request targeting Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM) leader Masood Azhar, diplomats said.

It was the third time that the UN Security Council was considering a request to put Azhar on the UN sanctions blacklist, which would subject him to a global travel ban and asset freeze.

China has twice blocked attempts, in 2016 and 2017, to impose sanctions on the JeM leader.

The group, which has carried out a number of high-profile attacks on Indian targets, was added to a UN watchlist in 2001, while Pakistan banned it a year later in 2002.

JeM claimed responsibility for the February 14 attack in India-administered Kashmir that killed at least 40 Indian troops and triggered a massive military standoff between the South Asian neighbours.

India and Pakistan carried out air raids last month across their disputed Kashmir frontier in clashes that sent tensions soaring between the nuclear-armed countries.

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On February 26, India staged an air raid on a camp inside Pakistan that it said belonged to JeM. Pakistan responded a day later with fighter jets crossing into India-administered Kashmir.

An Indian Air Force pilot who was shot down over Pakistani territory was later sent back to India.

Islamabad announced last week that more than 100 armed fighters, including many from JeM, had been detained, but India has greeted those statements with suspicion.

Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi also recently denied in a television interview that JeM had claimed responsibility for the suicide attack.

Kashmir has been split between India and Pakistan since their independence in 1947.

India has long accused its neighbour of supporting Kashmir rebels. Pakistan denies any role in attacks in the Indian side of the Himalayan region, where tens of thousands have died in an armed rebellion since 1989.

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