A 17-year-old girl was killed and four other civilians injured in Poonch district on Friday during stepped up firing by Pakistan at different places along the Line of Control (LoC) and the international border in Jammu Kashmir.
Identifying the deceased as Jara Akhtar, sources said that she died at village Gigriyal in Saujjian area in Poonch district during mortar shelling by Pakistani troops from across the LoC. Five other villagers were also injured as mortar shells rained on the village, sources said, adding that they included Ghulam Mohammad, 60, Sher Bagh, 52, Zulfikar Ahmed, 17, and Javed Iqbal, 14.
The shelling which started around 2 pm Friday in Saujjian area came nearly 36 hours after six civilian including two women got injured and nearly half a dozen houses damaged in unprovoked mortar shelling by it on civilian areas in the same area.
A Defence Ministry spokesman Lt Colonel Manish Mehta here said that Pakistani troops resorted to yet another ceasefire violation targeting the Indian side with small arms fire in the same area on Friday afternoon. The firing from across the LoC continued from 2 pm to 3.30 pm, he said, adding that the Indian army also retaliated. However, there was no casualty or damage on the side of Indian army.
Meanwhile, sources said that unprovoked firing by Pakistani troops re-started after a brief halt and this time, they started targeting civilian areas on the Indian side with mortar shells. Some of the mortars fell on Gigriyal village causing civilian casualty, they said, adding that a few houses were also damaged.
There was panic in the village with people having fled to safer places in view of Pakistani troops targeting them with mortars for the second time since Wednesday night when six people including two women had got injured and nearly half a dozen houses damaged.
Meanwhile, Pakistani Rangers also resorted to unprovoked small arms fire on two forward Indian positions – Pittal Post and Tent Guard, along the international border in Arnia sector late this evening. The BSF also retaliated and the exchange of fire between the two sides was continuing when reports last came in late in the night.
The latest spate of ceasefire violations have started less than 24 hours after both US President Barack Obama and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during nearly two hour long meeting between them in Washington, had committed to “joint and concerted efforts that include dismantling safe havens for terrorists and criminal networks, disrupting financial and tactical support for Lashkar-e-Toiba, Jaish-e-Mohammed, D-company and Haqqani network”.
The unprovoked mortar shelling by Pakistan has also come after a lull of over a month as earlier in August this year, its troops had been continuously resorting to heavy firing and mortar shelling on civilian areas not only along the LoC, but also along the international border in Jammu and Samba districts. The Pakistani firing, which BSF top officials described as heaviest since 1971 Indo-Pak war, had also led to migration of people from various villages in R S Pura, Arnia and Ramgarh sectors.
While peace got restored along the borders following a flag meeting between the two sides at Suchetgarh on August 29, five days thereafter areas of Jammu Kashmir on both sides of the border were hit by flood fury, the worst ever in last six decades.
Meanwhile, sources attributed the latest incidents of ceasefire violation to attempts by Pakistani troops to provide cover fire to two groups of terrorists who had been making desperate attempts to sneak into the state through Saujjian and Digwar areas for the past five days. They had fired a few shots from small arms on Monday and Tuesday also, but Indian army retaliated only on Wednesday night when firing from across the LoC got intensified, sources said.
Owing to effective retaliation by Indian side, the terrorists could not sneak into the state. As there have been almost zero infiltration from across the LoC in view of intensified vigil by troops along the LoC and the international border, the terrorists have become desperate to sneak into the state before the onset of winter when mountainous passes get blocked due to snowfall.