Five civilians were killed and at least 20 others injured on Saturday 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.
Among those killed was a 10-year old boy, while three others died when the car in which they were travelling was hit by a shell fired from the Pakistan side in Mendhar sector, police said.
Pakistani Rangers fired mortar bombs at four sectors in the district on Independence Day drawing strong retaliatory fire from Indian troops.
Abdul Rehman Master (45), Karamat Hussain Khan (48) Mohammed Sheraj Khan (17), Mohammed Amin (18) and Mohin Khan (10) of Basoni village were killed in the firing. The village is about three kilometres inside the LoC.
Army helicopters were rushed to the area to shift 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 accord in August and this is the seventh consecutive day that Pakistani troops have shelled Indian posts along the Line of Control(LoC) in Jammu region.
Defence spokesperson Lt Colonel Manish Mehta said Pakistan started firing in the Hamirpur (Balakote area) at about 11 am.
“Pakistan fired 120mm and 82 mm mortar shells. There is still heavy firing on. An MI 17 army chopper was flown in to airlift the critically injured,” Mehta said.
Reports suggested that many people are likely to be shifted from the forward areas along the LoC.
Defence and intelligence sources said the consistent firing was aimed at scuttling the National Security Advisor-level talks between the two countries scheduled 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 casualities is being done with this purpose,” said a senior army official, not wishing 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 August 14, Pakistan troops had resorted to firing with automatic weapons and 82 mm mortar bombs on forward posts and civilian areas in Shahpur Kerni belt of Poonch district.
Pakistani troops had also fired on forward posts along the LoC in Balakote belt with automatic, small arms and mortar bombs on the intervening night of 13 and 14 August.
On August 13, Pakistani troops had resorted to firing by small arms and automatic weapons on forward posts along LoC in Bhimbher Gali (BG) sector of Poonch district, in which one jawan was injured.
There were four ceasefire violations in three sectors of Krishnagati, Bhimbhergali and Pallanwala in Poonch, Rajouri and Jammu districts on the intervening night of August 12-13.
Last month, there were 19 ceasefire violations in which four persons, including three jawans, were killed and 14 others injured.
Pakistan violated the ceasefire 192 times along the International Border in Jammu and Kashmir till July 26, government had told Lok Sabha.
( With inputs from agencies)