Pak shelling kills 5 of family, orphans 2 sisters in J-K’s Poonch
The ceasefire violation comes at a time of heightened diplomatic tensions between the two countries, which have in recent days accused each other of harassing diplomats and their families.india Updated: Mar 18, 2018 23:27 IST
Pakistani mortar shelling killed five members of a family and left two sisters wounded and orphaned in a Jammu and Kashmir village about 4km from the Line of Control (LoC) on Sunday morning.
The Pakistanis “are specifically targeting civilians and their livestock”, army spokesman Lt Col Devender Anand said, calling the firing a “deliberate provocation”.
According to state police chief SP Vaid, the wounded sisters — Nasreen Kouser and Mahreen Kouser, aged 11 and five — were airlifted and admitted to the government medical college and hospital in Jammu. One of the girls needed surgery and she is recuperating well now, doctors said.
They lost their parents and three brothers when a shell ripped through the roof and exploded in their house in Devta Sargloon village in the Balakote area of Poonch district.
State public works minister Naeem Akhtar, who visited them in the hospital, said: “The government will take full care of the two girls, who have no one left to look after them in the family.”
The victims were Mohammed Ramzan, 35, his 32-year-old wife Malika Bi, and their three sons — Abdul Rehman, Mohammed Rizwan and Razaq Ramzan, aged 14, 12 and seven respectively.
According to the army, Pakistan’s “cowardly act” of targetting civilians in areas almost 4km from the LoC, where there is no deployment of soldiers or military installation, was a serious concern.
Lt Col Anand said the army has “retaliated strongly, effectively and proportionately” to the indiscriminate firing by Pakistan, which used small arms, and 81mm and 120mm mortar shells.
Pakistan violated the ceasefire 633 times in the first two months of this year, in which 10 security personnel and 12 civilians were killed, Union minister of state for home Hansraj Gangaram Ahir told the Lok Sabha last week. Most violations, 432, were along the LoC, he said.
The ceasefire violation comes at a time of heightened diplomatic tensions between the two countries, which have in recent days accused each other of harassing diplomats and their families.
Pakistan said on Saturday its high commissioner to India, Sohail Mahmood, who was recalled to Islamabad for talks over the alleged harassment of diplomatic staff in New Delhi, was unlikely to return to his posting until the situation improved.
Islamabad has decided to stay away from a World Trade Organization meet hosted by New Delhi on March 19 and 20.