SRINAGAR: Eleven civilians were killed and dozens injured as India and Pakistan traded gunfire and shells along the International Border and Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir amid signs of new escalation in tension between the two nuclear powers.
Coincidentally , the escalation in cross border shelling and firing took place on the day India marked the 50th anniversary of 1965 war with Pakistan.
Leaders marked the anniversary of the 1965 war fought over Kashmir that ended in a ceasefire and a return to front lines that predated the conflict.
The BSF officials said that the Pakistan Rangers resorted to unprovoked firing along the International Border in RS Pura Sector of Jammu resulting in the death of 3 persons and injuries to nearly a dozen. Sources said that the trouble started around midnight with Pakistan Rangers initially firing with small weapons on BSF border outposts (BOPs) in the R S Pura sector. Later, they started mortar shelling on civilian areas as well compelling BSF to retaliate. The exchange of shelling between the two sides was continuing, sources added, the reports said.
According to the Divisional Commissioner Jammu, Pawan Kotwal at least 17 persons were also injured when Pakistani Rangers resorted to shelling in Arina and RS Pora sectors. However BSF said 22 were wounded in firing across the frontier in the northern Jammu region.
On its part, the Pakistan media quoting a military statement reported that 8 civilians were killed in Indian firing along the Working Boundary in Sialkot Sector. Pakistan Rangers spokesperson Major Waheed Bukhari said that unprovoked firing had started overnight from the Indian side. It was followed by retaliation from the Rangers.
According to a statement issued by the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), the Indian Border Security Forces personnel resorted to firing and shelling along the boundary.
Rangers sources said the attacks along the Sialkot Working Boundary have mostly harmed civilians, adding that livestock belonging to residents of the area has been killed, while houses have been partially damaged, Dawn newspaper reported.
A statement released by Pakistans Ministry of Foreign Affairs read that three villages came under Indian shelling, including Kundunpur, Bajra Garhi and Thati.
Both said the other side had opened fire first.
The fresh causalities along the border came nearly after two weeks when 8 people were killed in Poonch district on Indian side along the LoC in firing and shelling.
Meanwhile, the Indian High Commissioner, TCA Raghawan was summoned to the Foreign Office by Pakistan and a strong protest was lodged with him over the working boundary violations by BSF near Sialkot which resulted in the killing of civilians, reports said.
Also, the Adviser to the Pakistan Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs and National Security, Sartaj Aziz, condemned the exchange of fire between Indian and Pakistani border troops along the LoC in Kashmir and Working Boundary.
The government of Pakistan expresses concern at the continued ceasefire violations by India along the LOC and the Working Boundary, said Aziz, adding: We urge the Indian government to stop ceasefire violations along the LOC and the Working Boundary,
General Raheel Sharif visited the Sialkot working boundary and appreciated the high morale of the troops deployed on the border, one of the tweets said.
The army chief also visited the Combined Military Hospital in Sialkot to inquire about the health of civilians injured as a result of unprovoked by Indian border security forces.
During his visit, the army chief was given a briefing about the latest situation on the Working Boundary.
India has crossed all limits to terrorise Pakistani civilian population disregarding worldwide conventions and norms, General Sharif said.
The COAS said that the Indian firing and violation targeting civilians is highly unprofessional, unethical, irresponsible and cowardly act.
Innocent trapped in the vortex of violence: Mufti
SRINAGAR – Chief Minister, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, Friday strongly condemned the killing of three innocent civilians and injuries to many others in the persistent shelling from across the border in R. S. Pura and Arnia sectors in Jammu district.
He expressed solidarity with the besieged people residing in the affected areas and assured them full support of his Government. We have to immediately explore ways and means to bring an end to the sufferings of the hapless civilians who have been subjected to great hardships over the last few months without any fault of theirs by the continuous shelling on IB and the LoC, he said and added that there was a mechanism available to talk for ending the shelling on the borders.
Making a fervent appeal for maintaining peace on the borders so that innocent civilians do not get trapped in the vortex of violence, Mufti Sayeed said constant shelling from across the IB and LoC has seen a humanitarian crisis unfolding with people leaving their homes and scurrying for safety of their lives. He said frequent ceasefire violations and heavy pounding of civilian areas in proximity of the IB has resulted in loss of precious human lives and created an atmosphere which is not very conducive for the relationship between the two neighbouring countries.
The Chief Minister conveyed his sympathies to the bereaved families in their hour of grief and prayed for peace to the departed souls. He also issued directions for providing best possible medical treatment to those injured persons, who have been admitted in the hospital.
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