Hours after their violation of the Line of Control (LoC) with Pakistan, Indian troops on Tuesday evening resorted to indiscriminate shelling from across the dividing line, leaving at least four civilians dead and 11 others wounded in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK), officials said.
The machinegun, mortar and artillery shelling began at about 5:30pm simultaneously in Kotli, Bhimber and Poonch districts and was "intense and indiscriminate", with civilians being ruthlessly targeted by Indian forces without any provocation, officials added.
The Kotli district was the worst hit area as all four of its sectors sharing the LoC came under heavy attack, according to deputy commissioner Dr Umer Azam.
Relations between Pakistan and India have been tense since a suicide bombing in Indian-occupied Kashmir killed over 40 Indian soldiers, with New Delhi blaming Pakistan of being complicit in the attack — a charge Islamabad has denied vehemently and from the get-go.
The tensions soared even more today after the Indian LoC violation — a transgression for which Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor, the director general of Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), has warned New Delhi to "wait for our response".
According to Dr Azam, one of the shells fell on a house in Mohra Dharoti village of Nakyal sector and as a result, a woman and her two children were killed and another three children wounded.
He identified the deceased as Motiyan Begum, 55, Zarina, 20, and Gulfraz, 8, and the injured family members as Umar Farooq, 18, Sarfraz, 13, and Sagheer, 7.
Elsewhere in the same sector, 15-year-old Umer Mushtaq, Abdul Rahman, 40, Shamim Akhtar, 41 were injured in Saloor Tarkundi village and Khaqan, 40, in Balakot village, the deputy commissioner added.
In Khuiratta sector of the same district, Shehnaz Begum, 40, lost her life, while Adnan Aslam and his sister Sumera Aslam, and Munir Begum were injured in Khanpur Seri village.
Shelling was also taking place in Tattapani and parts of Charhoi sectors, but no casualties were immediately reported from there, Azam said.
"Since shelling is continuing intermittently, the casualties may go up … Once the guns fall silent we will be able to ascertain the exact details of losses," he said.