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MUZAFFARABAD: As Pakistan began its Defence Day celebrations, Indian forces violated the ceasefire along the Line of Control for a 43rd time during the current year by resorting to ‘unprovoked’ shelling in the early hours of Tuesday morning, causing injuries to a villager and damage to houses and a school building.

It was the second ceasefire violation in less than a week, as on Sept 2 Indian troops opened fire from across the LoC in the Thob and Bhimber sectors.

Military and government officials told Dawn that personnel of India’s Border Security Force used small arms and fired mortar shells in the Neza Pir sector in Haveli district of Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK). The shelling started during the night between Monday and Tuesday and continued till 10am, they added.

The firing left Mohammad Siddiq, a resident of Kairni Mohri village, wounded as a mortar splinter hit him in the foot.

Besides, the houses of Abdul Rehman, Akhlaq Ahmed and Mohammad Hanif and the building of the government boys high school in the village were damaged, the officials added.

The Inter-Services Public Relations, the official mouthpiece of the army, said in a statement that Pakistani troops responded to the unprovoked Indian firing on the LoC in a “befitting manner”.

It said that the exchange of gunfire that began around midnight continued till ten in the morning and the troops returned fire with the weapons of same calibre.

It is not the first time that Indian troops violated ceasefire on a day of national significance.

On Pakistan’s Independence Day — August 14 this year — the Indian forces had also resorted to unprovoked shelling in the same Neza Pir sector. Though rounds hit some civilian houses near the LoC, no loss of life was reported. Pakistan army’s director general of military operations contacted his Indian counterpart on hotline and lodged a protest over the targeting of Pakistani posts and civilians.

While Indian and Pakistani troops struck a historic ceasefire agreement in 2003, cross-border firing along the LoC and the Working Boundary takes places intermittently with each side accusing the other of initiating the violations.

According to officials, the latest incident is the 43rd ceasefire violation by Indian troops during the current year.

On Sept 2, Indian troops resorted to unprovoked firing in the Thob and Bhimber sectors along the LoC. The firing, which was limited to small and medium arms, lasted for around two hours, and the Pakistani soldiers responded to the belligerent move by using 12.7mm machine guns.

Published in Dawn September 7th, 2016