One more civilian was killed in firing by Pakistani troops across the Line of Control (LoC) in Poonch area of Jammu and Kashmir on Sunday, taking the death toll in ceasefire violations since Saturday to six.
A woman died in Basoni village in Poonch district when she was hit by splinters from mortar shells fired by Pakistani troops at 7 am, a senior police official said.
On Saturday, five civilians were killed and at least 20 others injured when Pakistani troops violated the ceasefire for the seventh consecutive day by firing at several Indian posts and civilian areas along the LoC in Poonch district.
The Pakistan Army resorted to indiscriminate shelling and gunfire in Mandi and Balakot sectors of Poonch district on Sunday, defence ministry spokesperson Lt Col Manish Mehta said.
“The firing started at 3am and is still on. Our troops retaliated appropriately to the firing,” he said.
Pakistan fires along LoC even on its Independence Day
Police officials said heavy firing was continuing from both sides. The administration of Poonch district advised people living along the LoC to remain within their homes. Movement of vehicles was restricted as shells fired by Pakistani troops were landing deep within Indian territory.
The Pakistani side used 120mm and 82 mm mortars that have a range of five to eight kilometres.
Among those killed on Saturday was a 10-year old boy and three people who died when the car they were travelling in was hit by a shell in Mendhar sector, police said. Five people, including two teenagers, died in Basoni village, located about three kilometres from the LoC.
Pakistani troops fired mortars at four sectors in the district on Independence Day, drawing strong retaliatory fire from the Indian side.
Army helicopters airlifted the seriously injured to the government medical college hospital in Jammu city.
Chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed said Pakistan should be told categorically to stop inflicting miseries on the people of Jammu and Kashmir.
“We can’t allow our hapless civilians, living along the borders, to become the ill-fated victims of the military machinations from across,” Sayeed said.
There have been 32 violations of the 2003 ceasefire in August as Pakistani troops shelled Indian posts along the LoC.
Reports suggested that many people are likely to be shifted from the forward areas along the LoC.
Defence and intelligence sources said the firing was aimed at scuttling talks between National Security Advisors of the two countries in Delhi on August 23.
“A powerful section of the Pakistan Army and many non-state actors, including terrorist outfits, are trying to scuttle the NSA talks. The consistent firing to inflict casualties is being done with this purpose,” said a senior army official who did not want to be named.
Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief minister Omar Abdullah condemned the shelling by Pakistani forces.
"I condemn, in the strongest possible terms, the shelling along LoC Poonch that resulted in the deaths & injuries," he tweeted.
32 ceasefire violations in August
On Pakistan’s Independence Day on August 14, Pakistani troops resorted to firing with automatic weapons and 82 mm mortars on forward posts and civilian areas at Shahpur Kerni of Poonch district.
Pakistani troops also fired on forward posts along the LoC in Balakote and Bhimbher Gali with automatic and small arms and mortars on August 13. There were four ceasefire violations in Krishnagati, Bhimbhergali and Pallanwala in Poonch, Rajouri and Jammu districts.
Last month, there were 19 ceasefire violations in which four persons, including three soldiers, were killed and 14 others injured.
Pakistan violated the ceasefire 192 times along the International Border in Jammu and Kashmir till July 26, the government recently told Lok Sabha.