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Five die, 37 injured in Indian shelling

May 19, 2002

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MUZAFFARABAD, May 18: At least five people died and 37 others were injured in different sectors of Azad Jammu and Kashmir on Saturday in what the civil and military officials said, indiscriminate and unprovoked Indian shelling on the civilian population from across the Line of Control.

The shelling started early Saturday morning in Chamb sector in the southernmost Bhimbher district and then in Chakothi sector and Neelum valley in district Muzaffarabad, and Forward Kahuta sector in district Bagh during which the Indian troops used machine-guns, mortars, and artillery, officials said.

The shelling in Chakothi sector, some 60 kilometres south of here, began at 9.30am killing a woman, Tazeema Bibi, wife of Shabbir Abbasi, after a shell hit her house in Tofarabad village, superintendent of police, Raja Ghulam Sarwar told Dawn.

He said at least 12 people, including two women and a child, were injured in that sector, many of whom were caught in shelling in the main bazaar of the village, which is watched by Indian posts on the high mountains across the LoC.

Witnesses said the shelling was “heaviest” which forced the shopkeepers in Chakothi bazaar to pull down their shutters and rush for their lives.

“My nephew was going to school when suddenly a shell landed near him in the Chakothi bazaar and its splinters pierced into his stomach,” Ghulam Hussain Shah, uncle of the 13-year-old Ali Abbas told Dawn in CMH, as the critically injured teenager lay unconscious on the bed.

The boy’s father rushed back to Chakothi to take care of his family, caught up there, Shah added.

In Neelum valley in northeast of Muzaffarabad, the SP said one Karamat Hussain, son of Mohammad Akram died in Shahkot village. At least nine others, identified as Nazir, Gul Zareen, Mumtaz, Ziauddin, Jalal Din, Khani Zaman, Ali Akbar, Mohammad Younas and Mangta were injured in the villages of Shahkot, Salkhala and Katha Piran, located in the lower belt of the valley.

A late night report said that three other people died and around 16 were injured in the upper belt of Neelum valley on Saturday.

Deputy commissioner Muzaffarabad, Dr Mahmoodul Hassan Raja told Dawn that one death occurred in Karashi village and two in Nakrun, the remotest village of the valley. Apart, from them 16 were injured. However, he said the names of the victims could not be ascertained as communication links with the area were poor.

The shelling was also heaviest in the southernmost Bhimbher district, but deputy commissioner Fayyaz Ali Abbasi told Dawn that fortunately no losses had occurred except for killing of some cattle. Similarly, no casualties were reported from Forward Kahuta sector of district Bagh.

A Pakistan army spokesman told Dawn from Islamabad that the “Indian forces targeted the civilian populations along the Line of Control without any provocation.

“They are using medium and field artillery besides other automatic weapons,” the spokesman said, adding, “we did retaliate, but we only targeted the military positions of the enemy.”

AJK Legislative Assembly member from Chakothi, Sahibzada Mohammad Ishaq Zafar, has condemned the unprovoked Indian shelling on civilian population and has called upon the international community to take serious note of New Delhi’s cowardly acts.