Scene of burning houses in Neelum Valley on the other side of LOC. Photo credit Twitter
Horror Videos On Social Media Show Houses Ablaze, Residents Running For Lives
Srinagar: In a major escalation, Indian and Pakistani troops on Friday exchanged heavy firing and shelling along military Line of Control (LOC) that divides Kashmir between the two countries, leaving at least ten people, including four army men, a border guard and five Kashmiri civilians dead and scores of soldiers and civilians injured.
Civilians were killed as mortar shells landed on houses setting them on fire along the de-facto border in North Kashmir on Friday.
The new peak in tensions came only five days after three Indian soldiers and three militants were killed in an exchange along the LoC.
The latest LoC flare-up, according to army started in the early hours of Friday when the soldiers foiled an infiltration bid by militants after observing suspicious movement along LoC in Keran sector. The infiltration bid, army said, was accompanied by initiation of an ‘unprovoked ceasefire violation’ by Pakistan in Keran sector by firing mortars and other weapons.
Residents escape to safety in Uri as shells rain along LOC. pic.twitter.com/zj667PYEWa
— Kashmir Observer (@kashmirobserver) November 13, 2020
“Pakistan initiated unprovoked ceasefire violation along the LoC spread across multiple sectors to include Dawar [Gurez tehsil of Bandipora district], Keran [Kupwara district], Naugam [Kupwara district] and Uri [Baramulla district]” a statement from the Army said. “Pakistan deliberately targeted civilian areas. Three Indian Army soldiers have been killed in action and three soldiers injured.”
After Keran, officials said guns started blazing in Hajipeer and Kamalkote sectors of Uri forcing the villagers to abandon their houses and run towards the shelter homes. However, in the exchange of heavy artillery fire between India and Pakistan troops, two soldiers and four civilians, including a woman and an 18-months-old child were killed and six others injured.
The civilians have been identified as Farooqa Begum, Irshad Ahmad, Taib Ahmad Mir and Abrar Ahmad.
Block Medical Officer (BMO) Uri Dr Mohammad Ramzan told Kashmir Observer that four civilians were killed in various villages of Uri due to shelling and six others were injured, one of them critically.
“Among the four dead civilians was a two and half year old child from Gohlan village. His mother and brother were also injured and were referred to district hospital Baramulla for treatment. Besides it, an amputated man was also referred to Srinagar in a critical condition,” Ramzan added.
On the other side of the divide, Raja Farooq Haider, Prime Minister of Pakistani part of Kashmir, said five people were killed and 31 wounded in the intense shelling on the Neelum and Jhelum valleys in past two days.
Baramulla Deputy Commissioner Ghulam Nabi Itoo said six civilians died in the shelling and firing in Baramulla district alone. “Five injured civilians were shifted to SKIMS Srinagar’,” Itoo said.
The horrific images and videos of men, women and children running for their lives in different areas of border town Uri took social media by storm. Many unverified videos on social media showed huge flames rising from the residential houses as the inmates running for cover.
Two soldiers were also killed and three others injured in Tulail and Bagtore areas along the LoC in Gurez sectors of Bandipora district, reports said. The soldiers were identified as Naik Satai Bhusha and Sepoy Jon Dhale Rushikesh both residents of Maharashtra, while the injured have been identified as Naik Kale Navnath, Sepoys Khade Uddhav and Kirte Yogesh.
In Naugam sector of Kupwara district, a BSF sub-inspector identified as Rakesh Dobal was killed after the two armies exchanged heavy gunfire and mortar shells this afternoon. Besides Naugam, India and Pakistani troops also engaged in Cross-LoC firing in Karnah, Tangdar, Panzgam and other areas of the frontier district. Two civilians sustained splinter injuries in Tangdar sector, reports said. However, their condition is said to be stable.
An officer also said that almost all the BSF units along the Line of Control were under heavy firing since morning. The troops, artillery regiment and support weapons have been mounted for retaliation, he added.
Several videos, released by the Indian Army, showed multiple Pakistani posts being hit, reported NDTV. Some of the rockets and missiles supposedly hit Pakistani ammunition and fuel stocks.
Meanwhile, internet services were reportedly snapped in Kupwara district following escalation in tension between the two neighboring armies.
Infiltration bid foiled, says Army
A defence spokesperson said the Army foiled an infiltration bid amid the ceasefire violation along the Line of Control in the Keran sector.
“Suspicious movement was observed by our troops at the forward posts along the LoC in Keran sector [in North Kashmir’s Kupwara district] today,” defence spokesperson Colonel Rajesh Kalia said. “The suspected infiltration bid was foiled by alert troops.”
This was the second infiltration attempt within a week. Earlier, an unsuccessful attempt was made in in Machil sector during the intervening night of November 7- 8. Three militants were killed during the incident.
On October 1, three Indian soldiers were killed and five injured in two separate incidents of heavy shelling along the LoC in Jammu and Kashmir.
On September 15, Pakistani troops fired with small arms and shelled mortars along the Line of Control in Rajouri district, killing an Indian soldier and wounding two, including an officer. The injured soldiers were admitted to a military hospital.
An Indian Army officer was killed on September 2 at Keri area of the Jammu and Kashmir’s Rajouri district in alleged ceasefire violations along the Line of Control on August 30. Another army soldier was killed in firing by Pakistani forces along the Line of Control in Rajouri district on July 31.
Earlier this October, a 60-year-old woman was killed and another was critically injured in cross-border firing in Poonch. In June, a soldier was killed as Pakistani troops fired at forward posts along the Line of Control in Rajouri.
5 Civilians Injured In Poonch Shelling
At least five people, including two porters on Friday were injured in cross-LoC shelling in Poonch district of Jammu and Kashmir.
According to officials, Pakistani troops violated ceasefire by firing mortars along the LoC in Sawjian sector in Poonch district. In the Pakistani firing and shelling, five people, including a middle-aged woman and two porters were injured.
A local news agency GNS identified the injured as Hajra Begum, Abdul Salam, Touseef Ahmad and Mohammad Rashad, residents of Sawjian Maidan while two porters of 183 BN BSF have been identified as Mohammad Afaraz and Mohammad Ibrahim of Saujian.
All the injured have been rushed to the hospital, Station House Officer (SHO) Mandi Tilk Raj said.
Army Uses Kornet ATGMs
The social media was abuzz with multiple videos, believed to have been released by the Indian Army, showing what looked like ATGMs (anti-tank guided missiles) hitting the Pakistani army bunkers.
The anti-tank guided missile systems are originally used to destroy tanks, but the weapon has been used against other targets in recent battles, including lightly armored and soft vehicles, fortifications, enemy infrastructure, fire points and snipers.
“The video (released by the Indian army sources) appears to be consistent with the flight profile of an anti-tank missile. The Indian Army is using Kornet ATGMs to target Pakistani installations at the border,” claimed Islamabad-based strategic affairs analyst Shahid Raza.
The media reports from Pakistan indicated widespread damage in civilian areas, videos uploaded on social media showed houses going up in flames, with the local population running helter-skelter to escape the incessant shelling from the Indian side. Significant damage was reported from the Indian side of the LoC, especially in civilian areas resulting in multiple people receiving injuries.
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