LoC Flare Up: Pak Firing Kills Indian Soldier, Injures 3

Jammu: An Indian soldier was killed and three others were injured as India and Pakistan troops on Saturday exchanged heavy gunfire along the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir's Poonch district, officials said

Pakistani army violated the ceasefire by resorting to unprovoked firing of small arms and mortar shelling along the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir's Poonch district, officials said.

The soldier, manning a forward post, was killed and three others were injured in Degwar sector, they said.

Earlier, a defence spokesperson said Pakistan initiated the unprovoked ceasefire violation by firing with small arms and shelling with mortars in the sector around 3.45 pm.

The Indian Army mounted an effective retaliation, the spokesperson said.

The casualties suffered by the Pakistani troops in the retaliatory action was not known immediately, the officials said, adding that the cross-border firing between the two sides was underway when last reports were received.

A police official said the Pakistani troops targeted civilian areas, besides the forward posts, causing panic among the local residents.

However, there was no report of any civilian casualties, the official said.

On Monday, a civilian was killed and four others injured in the cross-border skirmishes along the LoC in the frontier Kupwara district of the Valley.

Indian Army had stated last year that ceasefire violations across LoC by Pakistan Army had doubled in 2019 with around 3,200 reported instances compared to 1,629 incidents in 2018.

In December last year, 329 incidents were reported which is also double compared to December 2018 with 175 cases.

Since abrogation of Article 370 in Jammu & Kashmir, Pakistan has increased ceasefire violations. Last year, a total of 307 incidents were reported in August. While in September, 292 incidents were registered. In October and November 2019, 351 and 304 cases of ceasefire violations were reported.

Community Bunkers

The Jammu and Kashmir administration has meanwhile sanctioned Rs 25 crore for construction of 125 community bunkers in areas vulnerable to cross-border shelling in districts of Kupwara and Baramulla, officials said on Saturday.

"To safeguard human lives along border areas, prone to cross-border shelling, government has sanctioned Rs 25 crore for construction of 125 community bunkers for Kupwara and Baramulla border districts," divisional commissioner Kashmir Baseer Khan said.

Khan added that Rs 25 crore had already been sanctioned for 125 community bunkers in Bandipora district.

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