Fresh ceasefire violations by Indian troops from across the restive Line of Control (LoC) left two men dead and a woman and her teenage son wounded in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) on Thursday, officials said.
“There has been heavy shelling in Chamb sector since 6am and according to initial reports two civilians have been killed and two others injured,” said Chaudhry Guftar, deputy commissioner of Bhimber district.
Chamb sector is located in Barnala tehsil of Bhimber, the southernmost AJK district which runs along the heavily militarised LoC splitting the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir between Pakistan and India.
Guftar said that since the affected areas did not have cellular service, exact information about losses could be ascertained only after a physical visit once the firing came to an end.
Seemab Aslam, a Barnala based revenue department employee, identified the deceased as Rafique, son of Sharif, and Wazir, son of Allah Rakha.
The injured were Jannat Bibi and her teenage son Mohammad Usman, he said.
AJK Minister for Planning and Development Waqar Ahmed Noor condemned “unprovoked ceasefire violations by the Indian Army, targeting unarmed civilian populations”.
“The Indian government appears to be bent upon escalating tensions along the LoC to meet its domestic political needs,” he said, as he spoke to Dawn from Tehsil Headquarters Hospital Barnala where Bibi was admitted. Her son Usman was shifted to District Headquarters Hospital Bhimber in a critical condition.
For quite some time, the LoC has been frequently witnessing ceasefire violations in a serious breach of the November 2003 truce agreement between the armies of Pakistan and India, causing mostly civilian casualties.
Scores of civilians busy in domestic chores or daily work for wages have fallen victim to Indian snipers during the last few weeks.
According to State Disaster Management Authority (SDMA), fresh casualties have raised the death toll caused by Indian shelling in the ongoing year to 20 whereas another 119 people have sustained injuries.
In 2017, 46 civilians were killed and another 262 wounded, while the number of the deceased and injured persons in 2016 was 41 and 142, respectively, the SDMA said.