KOTLI - Two women were killed and seven other civilians wounded as Indian forces continued aggression at the Line of Control (LoC) on Sunday.
Pakistani border security forces retaliating with full force gave a befitting reply, forcing the Indians to hold fire, military officials said. But civilian authorities said they might be forced to order evacuation in face of the unrelenting Indian aggression.
On the other hand, Indian military accused Pakistan of triggering a heavy exchange of fire in Pooch sector, and claimed that most of the Indian firing across the Kashmir border was retaliatory in nature.
Nakyal Assistant Commissioner Muhammad Ayud Khan said Indian troops resorted to unprovoked firing and mortar shelling on Saturday night at Tarkandi, Datot, Kalar, Gala and Charani areas of Nakyal sector, near Kotli district of Azad Jammu and Kashmir AJK.
A woman was killed and minor girl injured when a mortar shell hit a house in Datot area. “A 17-year-old girl who was wounded in shelling died at hospital,” local police chief Chaudhry Majid said.
Local official Masood-ur-Rehman said six other villagers were wounded in the shelling on Lanjot village in Nakyal sector, some 200 kilometres south of AJK capital Muzaffarabad. Three houses had been damaged and one house and a car destroyed in the Indian firing, he added.
Javed Budhanwi, an MP from the area, said Indian shelling had caused panic among more than 50,000 local residents and warned that authorities may have to evacuate civilians to safer locations. “It is difficult for people to move out at the moment as the shelling continues,” Budhanwi said.
On the other hand, India accused Pakistani troops of violating the ceasefire twice on Sunday by firing mortar shells and rockets on forward Indian posts along the LoC in Poonch district, drawing ‘retaliation’ from the Indian side.
“Pakistani Army opened indiscriminate and unprovoked firing on forward posts along LoC in Bhambir Gali sub-sector in Poonch sector around 0715 hours”, Indian Defence Spokesman Col R K Palta said. Pakistani Army fired from small and automatic weapons besides firing medium mortars on the forward posts and civilian areas, he alleged.
Indian troops guarding the borderline used similar calibre weapons and retaliated strongly triggering fierce exchanges of fire, the Indian military claimed. In Mendhar sub-sector of Poonch district, Pakistani troops targeted Indian positions along LoC and opened unprovoked firing around 0300 hours, Col Palta said, adding India troops retaliated effectively resulting in exchanges, which ceased around 0600 hours.
“There was no loss of life or injury caused to anyone among the troops on this side in Pakistani firing”, Col Palta said. A boy identified as Mohmmad Khalil had received splinter injuries in the firing in Chitti Bakri forward area Saturday evening, a police officer said. Pakistan Army’s firing and shelling, which started last night in Tarkundi forward areas and also civilian areas, continued throughout the night and was going on when reports last came in from the area, according to Indian news reports.
The latest deaths bring the death toll of Pakistanis to seven since the beginning of recent skirmishes across the heavily militarised de facto border in Kashmir that started after five Indian soldiers were ambushed and killed on August 5. Delhi blamed those killings on the Pakistani army, but Islamabad denied any responsibility and has called for restraint and dialogue.
Kashmiri militant group waging a war for independence of India-occupied Kashmir, Hizbul Mujahideen has now accepted the responsibility for that ambush but India blames Pakistani state of supporting the militants and fanning militancy across the border.
The intermittent clashes threaten to jeopardise a planned meeting between the two countries’ prime ministers on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York next month. A deadly flare-up along the LoC in January brought a halt to peace talks that had only just resumed following a three-year hiatus sparked by the 2008 attacks in Mumbai that killed 166 people.