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LoC firing: Border peace shattered

Shattering the fragile peace along the LoC for the 20th time this year, Pak troops fired six 82 mm mortar shells at the Indian post, manned by the BSF, report Rahul Singh and Arun Joshi.

india Updated: Jul 31, 2008 00:46 IST
Rahul Singh and Arun Joshi

A day after defence minister AK Antony held Pakistan responsible for an upsurge in ceasefire violations in J&K, tension escalated along the Line of Control on Wednesday with the Indian Army accusing Pakistani troops of opening unprovoked mortar firing at a forward post in Nowgam sector in Baramulla district.

The Indian Army had lodged a strong protest with Pakistan after a Pakistani patrol crossed the LoC and opened fire on an Indian surveillance detachment in the same sector on Monday.

Shattering the fragile peace along the LoC for the 20th time this year, Pakistani troops fired six 82 mm mortar shells at the Indian post, manned by the Border Security Force, in a span of less than one hour.

“Two volleys of three shots each rang out at the Nerian post between 11.40 am and 12.30 pm. Our troops maintained restraint and did not retaliate. The incident was conveyed to Pakistani commanders over hotline. There were no casualties,” a senior officer at the army headquarters told HT.

Infantry mortars have a range of around five kms and a kill radius extending to some 90 metres.

The Nerian post is slightly north of the location that came under hostile fire on Monday. The government had asked Islamabad on Tuesday to respect the November 2003 truce asserting it was fully prepared to deal with such instances “firmly”.

Antony dubbed the increase in ceasefire violations “a matter of concern” adding that majority of these violations had taken place during June-July when infiltration attempts peak.

India’s accusations have, however, fizzled out into a stalemate with Pakistan hurling counter-allegations and completely denying any mischief on the part of its troops. Major General Athar Abbas, director general, Pakistan’s Inter Service Public Relations, has contradicted Indian claims about the two ceasefire violations in the last three days.

A senior army officer accused Pakistan of using its traditional propaganda apparatus aimed at planting disinformation. He said, “They have acquired somewhat of an expertise in their ritual military blame game.”

The Indian Army had claimed on Tuesday that four Pakistani troops were killed in a firefight in Naugam sector, but General Abbas said his army suffered no casualties and it were Indian troops who breached the LoC with hostile intention.