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MUZAFFARABAD: Unrelenting Indian shelling from across the Line of Control (LoC) left two civilians dead and at least 16 others wounded in two different sectors of Azad Jammu and Kashmir on Tuesday, officials said, fearing that the fresh wave of Indian aggression could cause more physical and material losses.

The casualties occurred in Samahni and Nakyal sectors of Bhimber and Kotli districts amid “unprovoked and intense” shelling by the Indian troops, they said.

The shelling in Samahni sector started at about 1pm, with Indian troops targeting the civilian population with both small and big weapons in almost all villages along the dividing line, said Deputy Commissioner Chaudhry Guftar Hussain.

Describing the shelling as “heavy” that restricted people indoors for a long time, he said it killed two civilians and injured another 12 in different villages.

He identified the deceased as nine-year-old Amir of Tandar village and 42-year-old Yasira Bibi of Gorah village.

Those injured were Amir’s father, Munsifdad, of Tandar, Iqra Shamrez and Aiza Azam of Chahi village, Ghulam Hussain and his son Adnan of Gahi Baroh village, Mohammad Ibrahim of Sona village, Mohammad Riaz of Ghotan Tandar, Kafeel Hussain of Dhal Khumbah village, Mohammad Suleman, Samina Bibi and Atif Razak of Danna Kathyala village and Razak’s employee Waqar, a resident of Narowal, he said.

Bhimber District Health Officer Dr Iqbal Hussain told Dawn that five injured people were admitted in the Bhimber district hospital and one was referred to the Mirpur district hospital.

In Nakyal sector, shelling started in the early hours of Tuesday morning, according to a local police official Khurshid Ahmed.

Though it was intermittent and stopped at midday, Mr Ahmed also said it was “heavy”, crippling normal life in most of the villages along the heavily militarised frontier.

He identified the victims as Mohammad Bashir and his 27-year old son Imran Bashir of Mohra village; and Mohammad Khan and his spouse Jan Begum of Naar Malikan village.

One of them was rushed to the Kotli district hospital and the rest were being treated at the Nakyal tehsil headquarters hospital, he said.

While state-run schools in Nakyal were already closed due to the summer vacation, local administration had also ordered private schools to remain shut until further orders.

Six civilians were injured in Monday’s shelling in Nakyal sector.

Condemning Indian shelling, AJK’s senior minister Chaudhry Tariq Farooq called upon the international community to take stock of the situation along the LoC.

“India’s belligerence along the LoC is reprehensible and it should not go unnoticed,” said Mr Farooq, who belongs to Bhimber.

The LoC that splits the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir between nuclear-armed rivals India and Pakistan has been tense for quite some time.

On Sunday, a Pakistan army vehicle was also hit by Indian troops from across the LoC, resulting in the drowning of four soldiers.

In their weekly hotline contact on Monday, Pakistan’s DGMO had communicated Pakistan’s demarche to his Indian counterpart to protest against the “deliberate targeting of Pakistan army’s vehicle resulting into the martyrdom of four soldiers, besides injuring one soldier and a civilian passerby.”

He had made it clear that while Pakistan army had been exercising restraint, recurrence of any such incident in future could, however, leave it with no choice but to respond with further “strong and effective” steps, including choking India’s military supply line.

Published in Dawn, July 19th, 2017