Indian soldier's body found in Kashmir after 18 years

SRINAGAR, India - The Indian army has found the body of a soldier 18 years after he went missing on the Siachen glacier in disputed Indian Kashmir, police said Wednesday.

"The body was discovered in a frozen state last week," superintendent of police Sunil Gupta told AFP by phone from Leh, 450 kilometres (281 miles) from the region's main city of Srinagar.

Gupta said the man, whose body has now been sent to his home in northern India, had likely been hit by an avalanche. The body was identified using papers in the soldier's pocket.

"It was a nightmare to bring the body back and took five days," he added.

At more than 18,000 feet (5,700 meters) Siachen is known as the world's highest battleground, and temperatures there can drop as low as minus 60 degrees Celsius.

An estimated 8,000 troops have died on the glacier since 1984, almost all of them from avalanches, landslides, frostbite, altitude sickness or heart failure rather than combat.

Nuclear-armed rivals India and Pakistan, who each administer part of Kashmir but claim it in full, fought over Siachen in 1987.

But guns on the glacier have largely fallen silent since a peace process began in 2004.

There was no fighting on the glacier when the soldier went missing in 1996.