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On firing at LoC, Army says Pakistan using civilians as human shields

The Pakistan Army initiated unprovoked ceasefire violation by shelling with heavy calibre weapons in 12 to 15 places all along the LoC in Jammu, Rajouri and Poonch districts since, since 6:30pm on Tuesday, a defence spokesperson said.

india Updated: Feb 27, 2019 11:58 IST
Ravi Krishnan Khajuria
Ravi Krishnan Khajuria
Hindustan Times, Jammu
Balakot strike,Pakistan firing,LoC
At least five Indian soldiers were injured as Pakistan fired mortar shells and missiles across the Line of Control at several areas in Jammu and Kashmir on Tuesday. (PTI File Photo/Representative Image)

At least five Indian soldiers were injured as Pakistan fired mortar shells and missiles across the Line of Control at several areas in Jammu and Kashmir on Tuesday, officials said, prompting authorities to shut schools and defer examinations within five kilometres of the border.

The Pakistan Army initiated unprovoked ceasefire violation by shelling with heavy calibre weapons in 12 to 15 places all along the LoC in Jammu, Rajouri and Poonch districts since, since 6:30pm on Tuesday, a defence spokesperson said.

“The Indian Army retaliated for effect and our focused fire resulted in severe destruction to 05 posts and number of casualties to the Pakistani army. Pakistani troops were also seen firing mortars and missiles from civilian houses, using villagers as human shields. However, the Indian Army targeted the Pakistani posts away from civilian localities,” Lt Col Devender Anand said. (Follow live updates here)

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Five army soldiers suffered minor injuries in the exchange of fire and out of which two were evacuated to the military hospital for treatment and are stable, he said.

The Pakistan army targeted Akhnoor, Pallanwala in Jammu district, Nowshera, Laam, Jhangar in Rajouri and Mankote, Mendhar, KG sector, Khari Karmara, Balakote and Poonch in Poonch.

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District magistrates of Rajouri and Poonch have closed government and private schools within five km radius of LoC on Wednesday as a precautionary measure.

The situation was tense on the LoC in Kashmir’s Uri sector amid ceasefire violations during Tuesday night and shelling in the forward posts. Locals said that the army fired shells towards Pakistani posts from Kalgai village. Officials said villagers in some areas in Uri are being shifted to safer places after the ceasefire violations.

The escalation came after the Indian Air Force (IAF) conducted a massive pre-emptive strike early on Tuesday on Jaish-e-Mohammed’s biggest camp acting on “concrete intelligence inputs” about the terror group preparing to carry out more attacks in India. IAF dropped 1,000-pound bombs in a thickly-forested hilltop killing a large number of terrorists.

Jaish-e-Mohammed had claimed responsibility for the Pulwama terror attack on February 14, when at least 40 CRPF jawans were killed.

This camp was headed by Jaish chief Masood Azhar’s brother-in-law Maulana Yousuf Azhar.

“The skirmishes started around 5.30pm on Tuesday and the intermittent exchange of fire lasted till 6am on Wednesday,” said an army officer.

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Locals from Poonch and Rajouri districts said they were being directly targeted by Pakistan army, which has been using 120 mm mortars, a battalion level flat trajectory weapon.

“Intense shelling is on and we have been compelled to flee our houses,” said Mohammed Rashid of Mankote.

Pakistan’s Dawn newspaper blamed India for firing on Pakistani posts and civilian areas. It reported that four civilians were killed and 11 others were injured in Indian firing.

According to PTI, 2018 witnessed the highest number of ceasefire violations — 2,936 — by Pakistani troops in the last 15 years along the India-Pakistan border.

Pakistan continues to violate the ceasefire understanding of 2003 despite repeated calls for restraint and adherence to the agreement during flag meetings between the border guarding forces of the two countries.

Also read| Army, Air Force on highest alert, ready for any Pakistan retaliation

First Published: Feb 27, 2019 09:04 IST