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Indian shelling claims four more lives in AJK

Indian shelling claims four more lives in AJK

MUZAFFARABAD: Four more people lost their lives to indiscriminate Indian shelling in different areas of Azad Jammu and Kashmir on Monday as the restive Line of Control (LoC) continued to witness exchange of heavy fire between the two sides.

According to officials, 19 people, mostly women and children, were injured in the Indian shelling.

“The entire dividing line (LoC) has been going through hell since morning… Heavy Indian shelling has caused deaths and injuries to men, women and children alike, even though they were forced to stay indoors,” chief secretary Sultan Sikandar Raja told Dawn.

He said a man identified as Altaf, 40, and a woman, Nazia, 30, were killed and at least 10 others injured in Chota Nar Dabsi, Mathrani, Pir Kalanjar, Mohra, Tarkundi and Oli Panjni villages of the Nakyal sector in Kotli district.

Eight of the injured were identified as Aniq Ahmed, 15; Burhan Salim, 11; his sister Nighat Salim, 16; Yasmin Bibi, 40; Farzana, 25; Mohammad Tazeem, 48; Alfaz Begum, 34; and Ms Maqsood Jan.

In the Samahni sector in Bhimber district, Attique, 14; and Tafoor, 11, were killed and Adnan, 13; Sabiha, 9; and her sister Sabahat, 11, were injured when mortar shells hit their houses in Baroh village. One Said Mohammad was injured in Bata Khetar village.

The Indian shelling in Mandhol and Battal villages of the Battal and Madarpur sectors in Poonch district injured Riaz, Khajoor Begum, Attia Younas, Kafayat Begum and Jannat Hussain.

Villages in Kotli, Charhoi and Khuiratta sub-divisions of Kotli district were also shelled, but “fortunately no casualties were reported from there”, the chief secretary said.

The Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) said Pakistani troops had been responding to Indian shelling befittingly. “There are reports of heavy casualties of Indian soldiers due to effective retaliatory fire by Pakistani troops. Six Indian soldiers have been confirmed killed till now,” the ISPR claimed.

According to the chief secretary, 27 people have lost their lives and 99 suffered injuries in the Indian shelling since early last month. About 11,000 families have left their houses in vulnerable villages along the LoC and moved to safe areas.

More evacuations

AJK Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider told Dawn on Monday that his administration was bracing for more evacuations as the situation along the LoC became extremely critical.

“If the xenophobic Indian rulers are not reined in, I am afraid around 500,000 people living all along the LoC in Azad Kashmir may be forced to move to the safe areas,” he said.

He called upon the international community to take notice of the flagrant ceasefire violations by Indian troops and protect civilian populations from their aggression.

“All peace-loving nations should play their effective role in resolving longstanding Kashmir dispute which is at the root of all tensions between India and Pakistan,” he said.

Indian diplomat summoned

Indian Deputy High Commissioner J.P. Singh was summoned to the Foreign Office on Monday and conveyed the Pakistan government’s strong condemnation of the unprovoked ceasefire violations by Indian forces on the LoC, according to APP.

The Indian diplomat was told that the deliberate targeting of civilian-populated areas was highly deplorable, said a press release issued by the Foreign Office.

India was urged to respect the 2003 ceasefire understanding in letter and spirit, investigate the continued incidents of ceasefire violations, stop targeting villages and civilians and maintain peace at the LoC.

“The government of Pakistan also expressed concern over the incident of Indian refusal of diplomatic flight clearance to Pakistani aircraft. This action by India constituted a violation of the 1991 bilateral agreement between Pakistan and India,” the FO added.

Published in Dawn, November 22nd, 2016

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