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MUZAFFARABAD: As Pakis­tan began celebrating its Independence Day, Indian troops resorted to unprovoked shelling of the Nezapir sector in Haveli district in the wee hours of Sunday morning.

“Indian troops started shelling at about 2am, using all types of heavy weapons, including mortar and artillery,” the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said in a statement. “The shelling lasted till 8.30am, during which...rounds hit some civilian houses near the LoC, but no loss of life was reported.”

Pakistani troops, it said, responded to Indian firing in a befitting manner.

Befitting response given to Indian firing, says ISPR

On the other hand, Press Trust of India (PTI) quoted Indian police and defence officials as accusing Pakistan Army of opening the fire.

A 50-year-old Indian woman was injured when the Pakistan Army targeted Indian posts along the LoC in the Poonch sector, the PTI said.

“Kasim Jan, a resident of Shahpur village, was injured when she was hit by splinters of a mortar shell” fired from across the LoC, a police officer said.

According to the ISPR, Pakistan Army’s Director General of Military Operations contacted his Indian counterpart on hotline in the afternoon and lodged a protest over the targeting of Pakistani posts and civilians.

In 2003, Pakistan and India reached a landmark agreement to maintain ceasefire along the unmarked LoC (Line of Control). However, several violations have occurred since.

The latest violation of truce has occurred at a time when tensions between the two countries are running high over the fresh wave of repressive actions in India-held Kashmir in which at least 60 Kashmiris have died and thousands of others suffered injuries, many in their eyes after having been hit by pellets.

Last year, several civilians were killed by Indian shelling on this side of the LoC and along the Working Boundary.

PTI quoted Indian defence spokesman Lt Col Manish Mehta as claiming that the Pakistan Army resorted to heavy mortar, small arms and automatic weapons firing in the Poonch sector.

“Our troops responded appropriately and no casualties or damage to our troops was reported,” he said.

Indian army sources said that at around 3am, Pakistan Army’s Doda battalion fired from their Dhakni-Dhok, Nezapir and Mocho Mohra posts, and later at 5am, their Banwat battalion also began firing at Indian outposts.

Sunday’s ceasefire violation came nearly four months after the last such incident took place on April 10 in the Poonch sector, the Indian police officer said.

Last year, 16 civilians were killed and 71 injured in 405 incidents of firing, the Indian police officer said. About 8,000 people had to be shifted to safe locations, he added.

Our Correspondent in New Delhi contributed to the report

Published in Dawn, August 15th, 2016