Zee Media Bureau/Deepak Nagpal
Jammu: In a major ceasefire violation along the International Border in Jammu and Kashmir, Pakistan on Friday night targeted 22 posts of the Border Security Force (BSF) and 13 villages in the Arnia and RS Pura sectors of Jammu district.
In what is being dubbed as the most intense firing in recent times, two civilians were killed and three others were injured in last night`s “unprovoked” shelling. All five belonged to the same family and the deceased were identified as Muhammad Akram and his 13-year-old son Aslam. They were killed when their house in Jodafarm village of RS Pura sector was hit by Pakistani shelling.
A BSF jawan also sustained injuries in the firing by Pakistani troops who have been using heavy weapons.
BSF sources said intermittent firing has been on since last night and that they have been retaliating in equal measure. Several houses have been damaged in the shelling, officials said.
"Pak Rangers resorted to heavy shelling of 82mm mortars and firing of automatic weaponry on 22 BoPs (border outposts) and civilian areas along IB (International Border) in Arnia and RS Pura sub-sectors of Jammu district from 0030 hours today," an officer said.
"Firing by Pakistani troops is still on. The BSF (Border Security Force) has started retaliating," the officer added.
This was the heaviest unprovoked and indiscriminate firing and shelling by Pak Rangers this year along International Border in Jammu frontier in violation of the 2003 ceasefire agreement, he said further.
All the injured have been admitted to the Jammu Medical College.
Over 3000 people living in border hamlets have been evacuated to safe areas under a contingency plan. The Pakistani shelling targeted villages of Sia, Jordha farm, Treva, Nikowal, Pittal, Pindi, Top-2, Gari, Gharana, Abdullian Korotana, Korotana Khurd and Vidhipur Jattan.
Also Read: Army, militants locked in fierce gun battle in Kupwara
Priya Choudhary, a local resident, was quoted as saying by ANI, "Firing is going on continuously. We are from another village but we are staying here and the situation there is same. Our lives are in danger. None of our family members are safe. We want the government to provide us with some safe place."
Another local resident added, "So much firing is going on that we are not able to go out. They (officials) just come in evening, promise everything but give nothing. It`s 6:00 am now but I cannot even go to my house to drink water."
Pakistan troops violated ceasefire along the Line of Control also twice today by resorting to heavy firing with automatic and small arms along Hamirpur sub-sector in Poonch district of Jammu and Kashmir, forcing Indian troops to retaliate strongly.
Amid continuing ceasefire violations by Pakistan, over 2,000 villagers from three villages close to the International Border in RS Pura sector migrated to safer places yesterday.
The J&K government has accommodated the villagers in two government high school buildings and an Industrial Training Institute building.
There have been 16 ceasefire violations by Pakistani troops in nearly a fortnight and 18 this month.
The heavy firing and shelling comes after the discovery of a possible cross-border tunnel from PoK along LoC in Chalka post in Pallanwala sector of Jammu district yesterday.
Reacting to the development, Defence Minister Arun Jaitley said it was sad that civilians have been killed in the firing.
“The Army is giving a befitting reply to Pakistan. The Indian Army is capable of protecting our borders,” he stated.
Meanwhile, Pakistani defence sources today claimed that a woman and a 60-year-old man were killed in firing by Indian troops near Sialkot.
"Today Indian Border Security Forces (BSF) again resorted to unprovoked firing in Chaprar and Harpal sectors on the working boundary near Sialkot. Two civilians including a woman and a 60-year-old man were martyred due to BSF firing," a senior Pakistani military official told AFP.
"Intermittent exchange of fire is still continuing at this moment," the official added.