ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Tuesday lodged protests with India as well as with the United Nations military observers over targeting of civilian populations as three more civilians were killed due to shelling by Indian troops from across the Line of Control (LoC) in Azad Kashmir.

With the latest casualties the civilian death toll from Indian shelling has risen to 25 in the past few weeks. Another 103 have been injured.

Indian Deputy High Commissioner J.P. Singh was summoned to the Foreign Office to receive a protest over the deaths that occurred on Monday in the Nakial and Jandrot sectors.

“Director General (South Asia and Saarc) Dr Muhammad Faisal urged the Indian side to respect the 2003 Ceasefire Understan­ding; investigate the continued incidents of ceasefire violations; instruct the Indian forces to respect the ceasefire in letter and spirit, stop targeting the villages and civilians and maintain peace on the LoC,” an FO statement said.

The FO has protested five times during the past five weeks over targeting of civilian populations, but all the protests have been ignored.

Another three civilians were killed on Tuesday due to Indian shelling as the Indian deputy high commissioner received the demarche over deaths occurring the day before.

“Two ladies identified as Kalsoom and Amna (mother and daughter) died due to Indian fire in Mandole village in Battal sector, while another civilian was killed in Khoiratta sector,” the ISPR said.

Unprovoked firing from across the LoC targeted civilian populations living in the Sabzkot, Khoiratta, Nekrun and Sharda, Tander, Battal and Baroh sectors, it added.

“Heavy exchange of fire is continuing in the Battal Sector,” an ISPR official said.

A protest was also lodged with the UN Military Observers Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) over the continued attacks on civilians living in villages along the LoC.

The UNMOGIP observers visited LoC last week to collect information about the ceasefire violations by Indian forces.

Tariq Naqash adds from Muzaffarabad: The senior superintendent of Poonch police, Mir Abid, told Dawn by telephone that in the Battal Sector the shelling began at about 1.35pm, with Indian troops using both small and heavy weapons and targeting “as usual” the civilian populations of the area.

The shelling had largely stopped by the evening, but sporadic firing with small arms was continuing, he said.

A mortar hit the house of one Zakir Hussain Shah in Mandole village shortly after the shelling began, killing his 45-year-old wife Kalsoom Fatima and six-year-old daughter Amna on the spot.

Mr Shah’s 30-year-old brother, Nazakat, was critically injured.

Mohammad Ashfaq, 26, was killed in Thair village near Mehndri Bridge, the SSP said.

Rafique Awan and Rabia Bibi were injured in Mandole and Battal villages, respectively, he added.

There were unconfirmed reports that two more persons had been injured.

The Battal, Madarpur and Dara Sher Khan sectors had faced heavy shelling on Sunday, in which six persons, including two women, were injured and at least 25 houses and three vehicles were completely or partially damaged.

On Tuesday, the Nakial sector of Kotli district remained calm, but the adjacent Khoiratta sector of the same district witnessed heavy shelling since 8am.

An official in the Khoiratta police station said that though the shelling was intense it did not kill or injure anyone directly.

However, a man in his late twenties, identified as Ghazi Naeem, died of cardiac arrest after a shell landed yards away from where he was hiding, in his Tain village of Khoiratta sector, he said.

Published in Dawn, November 9th, 2016

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