A woman and a man were killed while at least five others, including a teenager, were injured on Friday when Indian troops resorted to “unprovoked” shelling across the Line of Control (LoC) in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK), officials said.
The casualties occurred in Poonch district's Abasspur town ─ the same area where an elderly woman was killed in an incident of firing by Indian troops two days earlier ─ and in Nezapir sector of the neighbouring Haveli district.
“They (Indian troops) started shelling at about 7am without any provocation. Shelling continued intermittently after,” said Qazi Arsalan, an official at Abasspur police station.
In Poonch dstrict, Rashida Begum, a 55-year-old widow of a police constable, was critically injured in Taroti Bala Galli village after shrapnel from a mortar shell hit her, he said, adding that she had succumbed to her wounds on way to the hospital.
Abdul Aziz Shaikh, a retired junior grade employee of the education department, was injured after splinters pierced his left thigh in Taroti village, Arsalan said.
He was transferred to Shaikh Khalifa bin Zayed al Nahayan Hospital after receiving initial treatment in Abbaspur, he added.
A parked vehicle was also partially damaged in Taroti bazaar, he said.
In Nezapir sector, Mohammad Hanif, 52, was killed and five others were wounded after “heavy” shelling began there around 8:50am, police official Ishfaq Ahmed told Dawn from Forward Kahuta – District Headquarters of Haveli.
The injured were identified as Shafqat Hussain, 35, Khadija Bibi, 44, Mohammad Ismail, 40 and a 15-year-old girl.
All casualties occurred in Kairni village, official Ahmed said, adding the injured had been admitted to a military-run health facility in Forward Kahuta.
Inter-Services Public Relations, the Pakistan Army's media wing, is yet to issue a press release regarding the incident. However, residents claimed that Pakistani troops “befittingly” responded to Indian shelling.
AJK Senior Minister Chaudhry Tariq Farooq vehemently condemned Indian shelling, regretting that the Indian army’s conduct reflected its blatant disregard to its commitments.
“Despite agreeing to revive the spirit of the 2003 Ceasefire Agreement, Indian troops are constantly targeting the innocent civilian populations on our side of the LoC, which warrants serious notice by the United Nations and the international community,” he said in a brief statement.
The minister was referring to a recently concluded biennial conference of army officials from Pakistan and India in New Delhi, where the loss of innocent lives – mostly women and children ─ as a result of ceasefire violations and unprovoked firing was also discussed, with emphasis to revive the spirit of the Nov 2003 Ceasefire Agreement between the two armies to overcome this ordeal.
The heavily militarised LoC has frequently witnessed ceasefire violations for more than a year now, leading mostly to civilian casualties.
According to official sources, the latest casualties have pushed the death toll in Indian shelling in AJK since January to 44 while the number of injured persons has swelled to 253.