At least 15 Pakistani soldiers could have died in retaliatory firing along the Jammu border, the Border Security Force (BSF) said on Friday, as repeated ceasefire violations sparked panic among residents of frontier villages.
Two civilians were killed -- one in Khor belt of Jammu district and the other in Poonch’s Mendar sector -- in Pakistani firing, officials said. A girl was wounded with Pakistan’s firing and mortar shelling targeting Indian posts and civilian areas along the Line of Control, the de facto border, and the international border in Jammu, Kathua and Rajouri districts.
In the past four days, a six-year old boy and a man have been killed in the offensive by Pakistan. There are reports that over 400 families have migrated from the border villages and 24 civilians have been injured.Over a dozen cattle have perished in these areas.
The Border Security Force and the army have responded “appropriately and befittingly”, a defence spokesperson said.
BSF additional director general Arun Kumar said 15 Pakistani army men could have died in India’s retaliation against the ceasefire violations, though the force did not confirm “the number of causalities on the other side”. The BSF also said Pakistani forces were pushing militants into India.
The defence spokesperson said: “There was unprovoked ceasefire violation by Pakistan Army in Sunderbani, Pallanwala and Nowshera sectors of Rajouri and Jammu districts today (Friday).”
The official said Pakistan used small arms, automatics, 82mm mortars and 120mm mortars.
“It (the firing) continued till 5. 00am on Friday...,” said BSF Jammu frontier DIG Dharmender Pareekh.
Officials believe some Pakistani posts and villages have suffered heavy damage in India’s response.
“This has never happened before, such heavy firing from Pakistan...Everyone is so scared,” a resident of Rajouri told news agency ANI.
Rajouri station house officer Mohd Younis Choudhary said: “We are ready...(we) don’t want any casualties. This is heavy shelling. (We) have asked locals to stay indoors.”
Relations between India and Pakistan have hit a new low after four militants attacked an Indian Army base in northern Kashmir’s Uri in September, killing 19 soldiers . India blamed Pakistan-based militants for the assault, a charge Islamabad promptly denied.
On Thursday evening too, the Pakistani army fired bullets and mortar shells relentlessly at multiple Indian frontier villages along the border in militancy-hit Jammu and Kashmir, triggering a war-like situation in those areas.
Skirmishes are common along this border, but the attack intensified after Indian troops killed a Pakistan Rangers soldier in retaliatory action against heavy overnight shelling in the RS Pura and Arnia sectors of the international border.
A BSF soldier too was killed on Thursday in firing by Pakistani troops in Abdullian area of RS Pura sector in Jammu district --- the third such death of a border force personnel within a week since skirmishes erupted.