Border firing sparks fear, villagers flee

SRINAGAR: Firing and shelling between Indian and Pakistani troops escalated Thursday night along their border in Jammu region forcing residents to flee to safer places, reports reaching here said.

India on Wednesday had accused Pakistani troops of firing guns and mortars on at least 50 border posts overnight, calling it the most serious cease-fire violation between the nuclear-armed neighbors in a decade.

On Thursday night, the shelling escalated once again resulting in the injuries to eight people. Reports said an intense artillery skirmish erupted in Akhnoor sector yesterday evening during whch a mortar shell fired by Pakistani Rangers landed into a residential compound in Kanachak village. At least 250 people including senior citizens, women and children were shifted to the government high school in Rajpura from Gadkhal on the border in Akhnoor sector.

At least 100 civilians were being moved from the villages of Arnia and Ramgarh near the frontier, police said. 

Hundreds more were sheltering overnight in government camps away from any gunfire, which had injured 12 civilians in recent days, officials said. “These people usually go back to their homes in the day as the firing incidents mainly occur during the night,” they said.

Pakistan said Indian troops targeted 27 Pakistani posts near Sialkot in the last two days with machine guns and mortars. The Indians fired nearly 4,000 mortars and 59,000 machine gun rounds, and Pakistani troops responded, Pakistan’s military said. During the last two weeks, Indian troops have killed two Pakistani civilians and a soldier and wounded 26 other civilians, it said.

The attacks began Tuesday night after union home minister visited the region to review security, Border Security Force spokesman Vinod Yadav said. Indian troops returned fire, but one Indian guard was killed and six were injured by a shell fired at the Arnia post in the Jammu region.

Both India and Pakistan, however, have reported an increase in the number of cross-border attacks since the current Pakistani and Indian prime ministers held their first face-to-face meeting last month in New York and agreed on the need to reduce tensions. Agencies

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