Two children killed, 12 villagers wounded as Pakistan targets J-K’s Poonch
Pakistan targeted Indian villages along the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir’s PoonchUpdated: Oct 02, 2017 23:32 IST
The army gunned down five militants trying to enter Jammu and Kashmir through the disputed border, where heavy and unprovoked Pakistani shelling and gunfire killed two children and wounded a dozen frontier villagers on Monday.
A police officer in Poonch district said firing from Pakistan killed nine-year-old Israr Ahmed and a 15-year-old girl, Yasmin Akhtar.
Five children were among the wounded, the youngest being five-year-old Zobia Kousar who was airlifted to a hospital in Jammu.
Army spokesperson Colonel NN Joshi said soldiers retaliated after “unprovoked and indiscriminate firing of small arms, automatics and mortars” from the Pakistan side in the Poonch sector that began around 7.15am and continued till afternoon.
State chief minister expressed anguish over the killing of children, saying “it is unfortunate that these teenagers became victims of fire power when they were yet to understand the nuances of politics”.
A BSF soldier was wounded in Pakistani sniper fire along the Line of Control, the de-facto border between the two countries, in the state’s Rajouri sector. Bullets hit constable S Ramachari’s forearm and abdomen.
There has been a spike in ceasefire violations this year, forcing hundreds of people living along the border to flee their villages and take shelter at camps set up by the government.
The two countries had agreed in 2003 to maintain peace along the border, but violations intensified after bilateral relations plummeted in 2016.
Pakistani troops repeatedly target Indian villages and posts with heavy gunfire and mortar shells, which the military experts say is a strategy to provide cover for militants to enter the restive state fighting a decades-long insurgency.
Gunbattles on the border are frequent with deaths and injuries reported on both sides.
Pakistan’s foreign ministry summoned the Indian high commissioner over the latest round of fighting.
Senior official Mohammad Faisal condemned “unprovoked ceasefire violations” by India on Saturday and Monday, which authorities said left three people dead and five wounded in border areas of Pakistan.
The Indian military has stepped up its offensive against cross-border militancy and foiled two attempts by militant groups to enter Kashmir in Baramulla and Kupwara districts on Monday.
An army spokesperson said five men were killed in operations to check “infiltrations” by militants from Pakistan. Weapons and large quantities of ammunition were found on the slain militants.
“Search operations are going on,” the spokesman said.
The gunfights came just days after defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman visited Kashmir’s forward posts and reviewed the security situation. She was briefed about the “robust counter-infiltration stand along the Line of Control”.
Kashmir recorded an increase in anti-insurgency operations after a rise in militant attacks following the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani in July last year.
Security forces have been able to track and kill a number of Hizbul and Lashkar-e-Taiba commanders in the past months.
(with agency inputs)