Indian shelling leaves one dead, three injured in AJK's Leepa Valley

Published July 21, 2017
The deputy commissioner feared that the number of casualties could be higher. —File
The deputy commissioner feared that the number of casualties could be higher. —File

A young boy was killed, while three other members of his family were injured after the Leepa Valley of Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) was hit by heavy Indian shelling on Friday, officials told Dawn.

“The shelling started by midday and it had been intense,” said Deputy Commissioner of Jhelum Valley Abdul Hameed Kiani.

He said that a shell landed on a house in Ruddan Gheekot village, leaving 12-year-old Umair dead, while his siblings 10-year-old Aqsa, 7-year-old Uzair, and uncle Shah Nawaz, were injured.

The deputy commissioner feared that the number of casualties could be higher.

The Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) confirmed the death of one boy in Leepa valley in unrelenting ceasefire violations by Indian troops, "despite facing losses of men and material inflicted by Pakistan Army's response."

“Indian Army targeted innocent civilians in Gheekot and Mandal villages of Leepa sector where civilians were preparing for Jumma prayers,” the ISPR said.

The ISPR claimed that the Pakistan Army “effectively responded, destroying three Indian posts, killing three Indian soldiers, while injuring many others.”

“Pakistan Army stands by its innocent civil population and would continue to respond befittingly,” the ISPR said.

Leepa Valley is located some 100 kilometres south-east of Muzaffarabad in Jhelum Valley district, which was earlier known as Hattian Bala district.

Mohammad Babar Mir, a resident of Gheekot, claimed that Indian army was using (40 mm) Bofors guns.

“They are ruthlessly targeting civilian populations,” he told Dawn by cellular phone, amid fluctuating signals.

Mir said those who had previously built bunkers along their homes took shelter there, while others were left at fate's mercy.

Deputy Commissioner Kiani said that the shelling stopped for an hour but resumed with the same intensity afterwards.

“However, at the moment it’s calm, but you never know when they may resume it again,” he said.

On June 8, four members of a family were injured in Leepa Valley in overnight exchange of heavy fire across the restive LoC.

The latest casualties have raised the death toll of Indian shelling in Jammu and Kashmir since January to 23 while the number of injured has swelled to 165, according to government officials.

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