Villagers say India deliberately hits civilians in Azad Kashmir

Published July 22, 2020
Kashmiri villagers wait to interact with journalists in Chiri Kot sector near the Line of Control on July 22. — AP
Kashmiri villagers wait to interact with journalists in Chiri Kot sector near the Line of Control on July 22. — AP

Pakistani villagers living along a highly militarised frontier in Azad Kashmir accused India on Wednesday of intentionally targeting civilians, but they vowed never to leave.

"Indian forces have been intentionally targeting us,” said Abdul Aziz, 57, who was wounded on July 3 when shrapnel from an Indian mortar wounded his arm.

"Even our last child will fight to defend Kashmir if India attacks us.”

Indian officials did not immediately comment but in the past they have accused Pakistan of starting the hostilities in violation of a 2003 accord and causing casualties in occupied Kashmir.

Aziz and other villagers spoke with foreign journalists who were escorted by the military to the region to witness the plight of residents living along the frontier. Indian posts could be seen from the area using binoculars.

Aziz, sitting on a chair in the village of Chirikot with a bandage on his right arm, said most of the people who live along the Line of Control (LoC) that separates the region between Pakistan and India have either lost family members or close relatives because of Indian firing in recent decades.

Standing next to him, villager Asad Zubair, 23, said he too was wounded by Indian artillery fire two years ago.

"We are no longer afraid of death. It can come anywhere. We will live and die here,” he said.

The region's top Pakistani military commander, Major General Amer Ahsan Nawaz, briefed journalists about Indian cease-fire violations in Azad Kashmir.

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