MUZAFFARABAD: A man was gunned down in Azad Jammu and Kashmir’s (AJK) Poonch district on Tuesday after Indian snipers resumed targeted attacks from across the restive Line of Control (LoC), officials said.

The incident took place in Dara Sher Khan village of Battal sector in the Hajira subdivision at about 12.15pm when the man was trimming a tree in the courtyard of his house for his goats, according to Muhammad Aziz, a police official.

He claimed that a single shot hit the 55-year-old in the head. “He fell off the tree and died on the spot,” the official said.

The victim’s family rushed him to a health facility in Tatta Pani, located seven kilometres away from Dara Sher Khan in the neighbouring Kotli district, where doctors pronounced him dead on arrival. The deceased was identified as Muzaffar Chaudhry aka Mangu.

Relatives and other residents of the village held a demonstration in Tatta Pani to condemn unprovoked ceasefire violations across the LoC and expressed support for the anti-India struggle.

“Down with the Indian army, down with [cross-LoC] shelling; we will get freedom,” they shouted.

The heavily militarised LoC has frequently witnessed ceasefire violations, particularly after September 2016, in a serious breach of a truce signed by the two armies in November 2003.

Apart from heavy mortar shelling, Indian troops have resorted to deliberate targeting of civilians with small arms while they conduct daily chores in vulnerable areas along the LoC in AJK.

However, for more than two weeks, the LoC was silent as the last casualties in the region were reported on April 26 — when two civilians were killed and as many injured in heavy mortar shelling by Indian troops in Chamb sector of Bhimber district.

Responding to the latest ceasefire violation, AJK’s senior minister Chaudhry Tariq Farooq maintained that wilful targeting of unarmed civilians from across the LoC were highly condemnable acts of the Indian army, repugnant to global human rights and humanitarian laws and human dignity.

“Pity the cowardly government and army in India that derives pleasure from innocent civilian killings,” he tweeted.

According to State Disaster Management Authority (SDMA), the latest casualty has pushed the death toll so far this year to 21, including 15 men and six women, while 119 people have been injured.

“In 2017, 46 civilians were killed in similar attacks and another 262 wounded, while the number of the deceased and injured persons in 2016 was 41 and 142 respectively,” the SDMA said.

Published in Dawn, May 16th, 2018

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