AT LEAST six persons, including two women, were injured when Pakistani troops resorted to intense mortar shelling and small arms fire all along the Line of Control in the Shahpur and Sawjian areas of Poonch district Monday, days after the Indian Army announced it had carried out surgical strikes against terror launch pads along the LoC.
One of the injured women was said to be a Special Police Officer. Sources said she was hit when she was trying to help move the other injured to a hospital. Four of the injured are from Shahpur and two from Sawjian, they said.
Stating that Pakistani troops used small arms, automatic weapons and mortars to target Indian positions, Defence Ministry spokesperson Lt Colonel Manish Mehta said firing from across the border started at Shahpur around 11 am. In Sawjian and Mandi, firing began at 1.45 pm. Indian troops, the spokesperson said, were returning fire at all places.
Although there were reports that petrol containers, meant for supply to forward areas, had caught fire and damaged a telephone exchange in Gali Maidan in the Sawjian sector, a BSF officer told The Indian Express that only one container had caught fire and damaged some wires. He said the telephone exchange would be functional by Tuesday morning.
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Sources said that a few houses were also damaged in the shelling, which stopped around 4 pm in Shahpur and later in Sawjian.
The firing and shelling Monday was the heaviest in recent times and came two days after Army chief General Dalbir Singh visited the Northern Command headquarters in Jammu to review the situation along the border. He also met members of the team that carried out the surgical strikes on September 29.
The morning after the surgical strikes, Pakistani troops began firing mortar shells, targeting Balnoi in the Tata Pani area which, security forces said, was being done to help terrorists infiltrate. Areas along the LoC in Pargwal and Pallanwalla, too, were targeted by Pakistani troops, forcing residents to move to safer areas.
Authorities have already alerted residents of over 300 villages near the LoC and the International Border to be ready to shift to safer places. All educational institutions in these areas have been closed till further orders.