Woman, boy killed in 'unprovoked' Indian shelling

Published May 5, 2019
“Targeting innocent civilians along LoC reflects height of cowardliness on part of the Indian Army,” AJK premier says. — Reuters/File
“Targeting innocent civilians along LoC reflects height of cowardliness on part of the Indian Army,” AJK premier says. — Reuters/File

A young boy and a woman were killed while another woman was wounded in two different areas of Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) on Sunday amid "unprovoked shelling" by Indian troops from across the restive Line of Control (LoC), officials said.

According to a statement by the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), Pakistan Army troops responded effectively and targeted those posts which initiated fire. Intermittent firing is ongoing, the statement added.

The casualties occurred in Maal Gujran and Sehra villages in Khuiratta and Hajira subdivisions of Kotli and Poonch districts, respectively, where Indian troops resorted to shelling from 10am onwards, officials said.

In Hajira, Indian troops started shelling in Battal sector at about 10:45am “without any provocation, catching the residents off guard”, said Javed Iqbal, a local police official.

“A mortar shell exploded in the courtyard of a house, killing a woman on the spot and critically injuring her daughter in law," he said, adding that continued shelling has kept people of the area indoors.

Rubia Kanwal, Pooch district disaster management officer (DDMO), identified the deceased as 45-year-old Nasreen Begum, wife of Chaudhry Wazir Hussain, and the injured woman as 24-year-old Sonia Nadeem.

Later in the day, Shariq Talat, DDMO in neighbouring Kotli district, told Dawn that a 12-year-old boy, Mohammad Shahid, son of Mohammad Shabbir, lost his life in Maal Gujran village, two kilometres away from the LoC in Anderla Kotehra sector of Khuiratta subdivision.

“The victim and his grandmother were looking after their goats along a small water body close to their house when shrapnel from a mortar shell that fell nearby pierced his back,” he said, adding the grade-III student died on the way to a health facility.

Goi and Tatta Pani sectors in the same district were also being hit by Indian troops with "heavy weapons", Talat said, adding: "So far no losses have been reported from the two sectors."

While condemning Indian shelling vehemently, AJK Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider said he was greatly saddened by the loss of yet another innocent civilian life in the area.

"Targeting the unarmed and innocent civilians along the LoC reflects the height of cowardliness on the part of the Indian army," he said.

"The Indian government is gravely mistaken in believing that such dastardly acts can force Kashmiris to change their stance on India’s illegal occupation of their motherland," he added.

The AJK premier also called upon the international community to take serious stock of the situation and play its due role in addressing the root cause of tensions between India and Pakistan.

Though the heavily militarised LoC has witnessed frequent ceasefire violations for a long time now, tensions along the border skyrocketed after an attack on an Indian army convoy in the Pulwama area of India-occupied Kashmir in February this year.

According to officials, the latest casualties have pushed the death toll in ceasefire violations by the Indian Army in the current year to 16, including six females, while the number of injured civilians has gone up to 82, including 33 females.

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