7 Pakistani Rangers killed in retaliatory firing along Jammu border: BSF
India said on Friday it has gunned down seven Pakistani border guards in retaliation to “unprovoked firing” by the neighbouring country in the Jammu sector where the government started shifting villagers to safer places in bulletproof vehicles.
Pakistan’s army refuted the claim, with a military spokesperson saying there was “no loss (of life)” on their side of the border.
BSF’s Jammu Frontier inspector general DK Upadhyaya said another Pakistani soldier is suspected to have died when troops retaliated to heavy mortar shelling and sniper fire from across the border that left one Indian jawan seriously injured.
“…We are awaiting confirmation and then the number will go up to eight,” said Updhyaya. Pakistan Rangers is the equivalent of India’s BSF.
One suspected militant trying to infiltrate was killed in a separate incident during the day-long skirmishes at Hiranagar and Pargwal in Akhnoor and Samba sectors of Jammu region.
On Indian soldier was also injured while repulsing an infiltration bid along the line of control in Poonch.
The escalation of hostilities along the International Border in Jammu came nearly three weeks after the Indian government announced that its solders had crossed the de-facto border and destroyed several terrorist launch pads in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
The cross-border “surgical strikes”, denied by Pakistan, has dipped relations between New Delhi and Islamabad to its worst in many years, with hawks in both countries calling for an all-out war.
India blames the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) for the recent militant attack at an army base in Uri in Jammu and Kashmir and also for an earlier terror strike at an air force base in Pathankot. The Uri attack left 19 Indian soldiers dead.
Pakistan’s military spokesperson, general Asim Bajwa, described as “absolutely false” the BSF’s claims.
“Indians resorted to unprovoked fire/shelling on working bdry in Shakargarh sec today. Pak Rangers befittingly responded. No loss on Pak side (sic),” he tweeted.
The BSF suggested that the killings had been corroborated by Pakistani media, saying “source input” claimed that a media organisation in that country was running a news item about death of 5 Rangers.
Dharmender Pareekh, BSF’s deputy inspector general of the Jammu Frontier, said heavy cross-border firing by Pakistani troops took place throughout Friday.
“(Pakistani) Rangers also used heavy 82 mm mortars in Hiranagar and we retaliated in equal measure. (The) firing stopped at 5 pm,” he said.
Constable Gurnam Singh, who was injured in a sniper attack in Bobiya, was shifted to a government hospital in Jammu, around 80 kms from Kathua.
As the situation remained tense, the Jammu administration said it was shifting villagers living close to the 198-km-long border.
Bulletproof vehicles were being used as a precautionary measure, Kathua deputy commissioner Ramesh Kumar said.
Kumar informed that the administration has set up five relief camps to house the villagers.
“An advisory has been issued asking villagers in forward areas to stay indoors under hard roof and not to sleep in the open,” Jammu deputy commissioner Simrandeep Singh said.
Around 10pm, Pakistani Rangers opened fire on Indian posts in Suchetgarh area of RS Pura sector of Jammu district.
“Small arms bursts being fired by Pak rangers at BoP Abdullian in Suchetgarh sector. No mortar fire involved so far,” the Jammu DC said.
(With agency inputs)