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Five civilians injured in AJK by Indian troops unprovoked shelling

18 July, 2017

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MUZAFFARABAD/ ISLAMABAD: At least five civilians, including three women, were injured in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) in ‘unprovoked’ shelling by Indian troops from across the Line of Control (LoC) on Monday, officials said.

The shelling, which began at about 7am in the Nakyal sector of southern Kotli district, coincided with a weekly hotline contact between the Directors General of Military Operations (DGMOs) of Pakistan and India in the wake of Sunday’s mortar attack on an army vehicle in Neelum valley.

Officials said there was no let-up in Indian aggression along the LoC in Nakyal sector after Sunday’s attack. “There has been indiscriminate mortar shelling since 7 am, targeting almost all villages of Nakyal sector,” local police official Khurshid Ahmed said. “So far, five people have been brought to the Tehsil Headquarters (THQ) Hospital Nakyal, with multiple injuries, but I am afraid there might be more injured persons,” he said.

Pakistan’s DGMO Maj Gen Sahir Shamshad Mirza communicated Pakistan’s demarche to his Indian counterpart, Lt Gen Anil Kumar Bhatt, to protest against the “deliberate targeting of Pakistan Army’s vehicle resulting into the martyrdom of four soldiers, besides injuring one soldier and a civilian passerby.”

While emphasising the importance of controlling tactical actions of troops, Maj Gen Mirza warned that such indiscretions could ‘potentially spiral major standoffs’ between the two sides. “Such acts have the potential to escalate which then will be extremely detrimental to the peace and stability,” he maintained, according to a handout by the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR).

Indian media quoted their DGMO as ‘making it clear’ to his Pakistani counterpart that the Indian Army was ‘sincere in maintaining in its effort of maintaining peace and tranquillity’ along the LoC, provided ‘reciprocity’ from Pakistan. Indian media also confirmed that Maj Gen Mirza raised the issue of the targeting of a Pakistan Army vehicle in Neelum valley, resulting in the martyrdom of four Pakistani soldiers.

He also made it clear that while the Pakistan Army had been exercising restraint, recurrence of any such incident in future could, however, leave it with no choice but to respond with further ‘strong and effective’ steps. “While we don’t want to go down the path where we start choking each other’s supply lines, however, any such recurrence will invoke more strong and effective measures from Pakistan’s side,” Maj Gen Mirza told Lt Gen Bhatt.

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