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Indian Army warns Pakistan against targeting civilians along LoC

Indian posts and civilians in select areas of Krishna Ghati and Sunderbani along the LoC were targeted in “intense and unprovoked” firing by mortars and heavy artillery guns since Tuesday, an Indian defence ministry statement said.

india Updated: Mar 07, 2019 09:33 IST
Rahul Singh and Imtiaz Ahmad
Rahul Singh and Imtiaz Ahmad
Hindustan Times, New Delhi/Islamabad
The Indian Army warned Pakistan of “dire consequences” after its troops targeted Indian posts and civilian areas along the Line of Control (LoC) with heavy artillery as Islamabad’s chief military spokesman put the onus for de-escalation on New Delhi.(PTI/File Photo)

The Indian Army on Wednesday warned Pakistan of “dire consequences” after its troops targeted Indian posts and civilian areas along the Line of Control (LoC) with heavy artillery as Islamabad’s chief military spokesman put the onus for de-escalation on New Delhi.

Indian posts and civilians in select areas of Krishna Ghati and Sunderbani along the LoC were targeted in “intense and unprovoked” firing by mortars and heavy artillery guns since Tuesday, an Indian defence ministry statement said. The Indian Army retaliated effectively and there were no casualties on the Indian side, it added.

The statement said the overall situation along the LoC was “relatively calm” after India warned the Pakistan Army “not to target civilian areas”. A spokesperson said, “All actions taken by our defence forces are targeted towards counter-terrorism and terrorist infrastructure, away from civilian areas…to avoid civilian casualties. “We are maintaining strict vigil along the LoC and international border. Any further provocation or misadventure by Pakistan will be responded in a befitting manner with dire consequences,” the spokesperson added.

Pakistan’s chief military spokesman Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor told CNN the two sides “came close” to war and the release of captured Indian pilot, Wing commander Abhinandan Varthaman, had brought them back from the brink. It is now “up to India” to take up Pakistan’s “peace gesture and move forward towards de-escalation”, he said.

“We feel the ball is in the Indian court. Should they decide to escalate more, the situation will go bad,” Ghafoor said. Troops from the two countries were “eyeball to eyeball” on the LoC, though both sides had put in place safeguards, he added.

Pakistan’s foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi had said last week the government was in touch with the Jaish-e-Mohammed, the terror group which claimed the February suicide attack at Pulwama that triggered the latest stand-off, but Ghafoor said this “claim has not been made from within Pakistan because JeM does not exist in Pakistan”.

Ghafoor said action is not being taken against JeM “under anybody’s pressure”. He said it is in Pakistan’s interest to crack down on terrorists. “Anybody who operates from Pakistan – we feel it is not in the interest of Pakistan. Instead of blaming Pakistan, it is time the world should assist (and) facilitate Pakistan in getting rid of such organisations,” he said.

First Published: Mar 06, 2019 22:58 IST