MUZAFFARABAD: Indian troops resorted to what officials described as “carpet bombing” of several civilian areas of Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) from across the restive Line of Control (LoC) on Tuesday, leaving two civilians dead and at least 19 others, including six women and a police constable, wounded.

At first, the shelling started in the Leepa valley, located some 100km southeast of here in Jhelum valley district, at about 12noon, with Indian troops targeting Batlian and Bijildhaar villages.

Later, they expanded the range to the entire valley, targeting the civilian population with mortar guns and rocket launchers, said Waleed Anwar, Assistant Commissioner of the area.

Adeel Ahmed, 30, was injured after splinters pierced through his leg in Antalian village in the first bout of shelling.

“In fact it was carpet bombing of the civilian populated areas,” Mr Anwar said, adding that Pakistani troops responded “befittingly”. He said shelling in the area subsided at about 5.20pm but resumed “with full intensity” after two hours, leaving two more civil­ians — both young boys — wounded in the same village.

In Muzaffarabad district, Nauseri and Panjkot areas were also hit by Indian firing indiscriminately, after a long gap, said Deputy Commissioner Badar Munir.

Located some 40km northeast of here, Nauseri is the site of composite dam of 969MW Neelum-Jhelum hydropower project, along the main Neelum valley.

At least two mortar shells fired by the Indian troops landed at the mouth of the dam and one several yards ahead of the spillways, respectively. Five shells struck a landslide across the dam, Mr Munir said.

Police constable Mohammad Imran, 30, who was guarding Nauseri Bridge over the Neelum River, was critically injured after shrapnel from a shell hit him in the abdomen, he said.

Sami Maqsood, 12, of Nauseri village, Nooran Bibi, 65, and Noori Bibi, 55, of Grantar village and Nabeela Bibi, 22, of Panjkot village were also seriously injured in Nauseri sector, he added.

All of them were taken to Muzaffarabad.

The Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said in a statement that three Indian soldiers were killed and many injured, apart from damage to the Indian posts, in Pakistan Army’s retaliatory fire. It said that the Indian troops had resorted to unprovoked firing of mortars and artillery guns along the LoC, deliberately targeting the civil population in Neelum and Leepa valleys.

“Pakistan Army troops responded effectively targeting posts undertaking fire,” the ISPR said.

Published in Dawn, July 31st, 2019