Pakistan troops pound civilian areas

Pakistan troops pound civilian areas

At least two women were killed and more than two dozen persons injured as Pakistan continued to pound International Border (IB) and Line of Control (LoC) in Poonch district of Jammu region on Wednesday.

Reports said despite suffering heavy losses in retaliatory firing by the BSF, Pakistani Rangers continued to pound almost the entire 198-km International Border from Hiranagar to Akhnoor sector from Tuesday night with 82mm mortars and automatic weapons targeting more than 60 Border Out Posts (BOPs) and civilian areas.

The Rangers directly targeted Hiranagar, Samba, Ramgarh, Arnia, RS Pura, Kanachak and Pargwal sectors simultaneously since 9 pm on Tuesday night while Pakistan Army shelled several areas on the LoC in Poonch sector, reports added.

Two women identified as Shantla Devi and Bholi Devi of village Chilyari in Samba sector were killed in Pakistani shelling, sources said, adding injured included three Army personnel including a junior commissioned officer who got injured along the LoC in Sauujian, Poonch and three BSF personnel who were hit on the IB in Arnia sector of Jammu district. 

The injured Army troopers, who sustained mortar splinter injuries, have been identified as Naib Subedar Subash Singh, Sepoys Surjit Singh and Basant Kumar of 40 Rashtriya Rifles battalion. Reports said they were immediately evacuated and shifted to Military Hospital in Poonch, where their condition was stated to be critical. 

“This is for the first time that Pakistan opened up the entire IB from Hiranagar to Akhnoor last night. The Pakistani troops for the first time resorted to firing on Indian side along the IB in Hiranagar sector of Kathua district. The area had remained peaceful even during worst border skirmishes during July-August this year,” sources told Deccan Herald.

They said more than 10,000 people have so far been forced to migrate from border villages of Hiranagar, Samba, Ramgarh, Arnia, RS Pura and Pargwal to safer areas.

A senior BSF official said they have retaliated effectively at all the places and given adequate response to the Pakistani Rangers. Eyewitnesses said several mortar shells fell inside Arnia town causing extensive damage to houses and shops of the people and injuring civilians. A mortar shell exploded in front of Arnia police station damaging its compound wall but the police personnel had a narrow escape, they said.

Director General of Police (DGP) K Rajendra Kumar who visited border villages and relief camps said seven people have been killed and more than 50 injured so far in the ceasefire violations since last one week.

“These ceasefire violations are the worst since 2003. Police alongwith security forces are making sure that civilians remain safe and for the purpose people in several villages have been shifted to safer areas,” he told Deccan Herald.  Reports said around 8 pm Pakistan Rangers targeted forward posts and villages at Balnoi and Sona Gali in Mendhar sector. Pakistan Army has also been shelling Kirni, Kasba and Shahpur forward areas in Poonch sector, they added.

A defence spokesman said Pakistan Army violated ceasefire at Banwat and Hamipur in Poonch by resorting to unprovoked firing with small arms and mortars. “Army retaliated effectively and appropriately,” he said.

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