A teenager was among two civilians killed in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) after Indian border troops resorted to "unprovoked" firing across the Line of Control, the military's media wing said on Thursday.
The firing in Jura sector along the LoC also left two people including a woman injured, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said in a statement.
The deceased were identified as 14-year-old Shaharyar and Naveed, aged 29 — both residents of Lesva village.
"Pakistan Army troops effectively responded to target [the] Indian post firing on civilian population," the ISPR said, adding that three Pakistan Army soldiers were also injured in the subsequent exchange of fire between the posts.
According to the military's media wing, the Indian border post was damaged and Indian troops were "seen evacuating their casualties".
The casualties occurred in the lower belt of Neelum Valley, a day after Indian Army Chief Gen Bipin Rawat said that the situation along the restive LoC could "escalate any time".
“Earlier, it was [military] post to post firing between the two sides but after 3:30pm, Indian troops started lobbing shells on civilian-populated areas,” Akhtar Ayub, a disaster management officer in Athmuqam, district headquarters of Neelum Valley, told Dawn.
He said two to three mortar shells fell in Lesva village, around two kilometres off the main Neelum Valley road, injuring three civilians — Shaharyar, Naveed and his sister Komal, 14.
All three were evacuated to a nearby military-run health facility where Shaharyar succumbed to his wounds shortly afterwards while Naveed passed away on the way to Muzaffarabad, he added.
In Barian village, a 15-year-old boy, Hammad Ahmed, also sustained injuries due to Indian firing. He was under treatment at district headquarters hospital Athmuqam.
A police official in the area told Dawn that due to Indian shelling, the movement of vehicles on the main road was stopped to avert any further losses. However, traffic was allowed to move after sunset, he said.
Strongly condemning what he called unprovoked Indian shelling in civilian areas, AJK’s senior minister Chaudhry Tariq Farooq pointed out that Gen Rawat had already exposed New Delhi’s plan to escalate tensions across the LoC to divert attention from the situation in occupied Kashmir as well as in India that has been experiencing large-scale protests over a controversial citizenship law.
“World community in general and the UN in particular should latch on to the inflammatory and diabolical statements by the bloodthirsty warmongers in New Delhi. Under the cover of escalations along the ceasefire line (LoC) they seem out to crank up butchery in occupied Jammu and Kashmir,” he warned in a tweet.
The heavily militarised LoC has been frequently witnessing ceasefire violations in a serious breach of the 2003 truce agreement between the two armies, causing mainly civilian casualties in different areas of AJK along the restive dividing line.
According to Syed Shahid Mohyiddin Qadri, a senior AJK government official, the death toll in the ongoing year’s ceasefire violations by Indian troops has swelled to 59 after the latest casualties, while the number of injured persons has touched the figure of 258.
Soldier martyred near Pak-Afghan border
Meanwhile on the western frontier of the country, a Pakistan Army soldier was martyred and four others were injured in an improvised explosive device (IED) attack, a second ISPR statement said.
It said the troops were busy in carrying out fencing work along the Pak-Afghan border near Kandao Sar post in Khyber district's Landi Kotal when the IED went off.
The martyred soldier was identified as Lance Naik Taqdeer Ali Orakzai.