SIALKOT: An infant and an elderly man were killed and seven people were injured in heavy mortar shelling by the Indian Border Security Force (BSF) in villages along the Sialkot Working Boundary on Monday.

The attack came in the dead of night when residents of villages in Bajwat, Chaprar, Harpal, Sucheet­garh, Merajkey and Charwah sectors were asleep, senior officials of the Punjab Rangers said.

Haniya, one-and-a-half years old, daughter of Boota Ahmed of Chaprar village, and Mohammad Latif, 63, of Janglora village, were killed. The injured included Haniya’s mother, Yasmeen Bibi, 26, and Razia Bibi, 45, of Resmaan-Chaprar; two brothers Babar Hussain, 32, and Mohammad Kaleem, 30, of Jhumiyaan village; Shakeela Bibi, 28, and Allah Ditta, 35, of Bajwat village; and Mohammad Bashir, 80, of Merajkey village.

Rescue 1122 officials in Sialkot took the injured to the Combined Military Hospital (CMH), where doctors said the condition of Yasmeen Bibi and Babar Hussain was critical.

Several heavy mortar shells fired by the BSF exploded inside homes and schools. The officials said the shelling had continued for almost the entire night, damaging rooms, rooftops, walls and balconies of several houses in the villages. Some of the shells landed in fields, but did not explode.

Local residents described the attacks as “jolts of thunder”. They spent a sleepless night as heavy and small mortar shells rained down in the streets, thoroughfares, on rooftops and buildings.

Two shells landed in the playground of the Government Boys High School in Chaprar, but did not explode. Two shells each fell in the grounds of the Government Girls High School and the Government Boys High School in Merajkey, but did not explode. A shell exploded near a mosque in Merajkey. Mohammad Bashir, who was leaving the mosque after Fajr prayers, was hit.

Locals described a scene of devastation as dozens of cattle heads including cows, goats, donkeys and buffaloes were found killed and injured in the shelling.

Sialkot District Coordination Officer Dr Asif Tufail told Dawn that the district administration had set up three emergency medical and relief camps in Kundanpur village (Sucheetgarh sector), Phookaliyaan village (Bajwat sector) and in Chaprar village (Chaprar sector).

Rescue 1122 in Sialkot also sent three ambulances to Chaprar and Kahliyaan-Bajwat villages to take the injured to the CMH.

Almost all public and private schools in the villages that came under the attack were closed on Monday.

The Inter Services Public Relations said that the Punjab Rangers had responded to the unprovoked firing and shelling in a “befitting” manner.

A BSF spokesperson told Reuters that one of their soldiers was killed in cross-border firing in the Jammu region, and a boy, one of the five Indian civilians injured, later succumbed to his wounds.

The firing occurred in the Pura, Pargwal and Kanachak sectors on India’s side of the border.

Published in Dawn October 25th, 2016

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