Four civilians and one soldier of the Pakistan Army were martyred on Friday in firing by Indian troops from across the restive Line of Control (LoC) in several areas of Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK), the military’s media wing said.
At least 12 civilians and five soldiers also sustained injuries in the ceasefire violations in what appeared to be the biggest escalation in hostilities on the de facto border in months.
India also suffered “substantial losses” in terms of troops and material in Pakistan Army’s “befitting reply” to the firing, according to an Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) statement.
A report by The Hindu newspaper said 10 people, including six civilians, three army soldiers and one Border Security Force (BSF) soldier, were killed and more than 20 others injured in firing by Pakistani troops in four districts of Indian-occupied Kashmir.
On Friday morning, the ISPR had reported that one person was killed and three others sustained injuries in firing by Indian troops along the LoC.
In a tweet, it said Indian army troops targeted the civilian population living in Rakhchikri and Khanjar sectors along the LoC using rockets and mortars.
The ceasefire violation targeting Tari Band and Samahni villages led to the death of one citizen and left three civilians, including two women, injured.
“PakArmy responded effectively, targeting Indian Army posts,” the ISPR said.
Meanwhile, Senate Deputy Chairman Saleem Mandviwala, who was supposed to visit the LoC on Friday, said he was forced to cancel his visit due to relentless Indian shelling.
In a statement, Mandviwala, who is currently visiting AJK, said he was also scheduled to meet the prime minister and president of AJK but the meeting was postponed due to the firing.
He said Indian troops were carrying out “intense shelling” and had also targeted civilian homes and a mosque.
“This is not even shelling; India is throwing bombs,” he said, adding that the residents of Neelum Valley were becoming victims of “Indian army’s terrorism”.
Regretting the deaths of civilians, he urged the international community to take notice of Indian “aggression” and “state-sponsored terrorism”.
The heavily militarised LoC that splits the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir has been witnessing skirmishes and artillery duels in a serious breach of a truce agreement that the rival armies had signed in November 2003.
Last month, Pakistan’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Ambassador Munir Akram had told the United Nations that India’s aggressive policies and military posture posed an “immediate and pervasive threat” to international peace and security.
Addressing the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) First Committee on disarmament and international security, Akram said Indian forces continued to resort to artillery and small arms fire every day along the LoC, targeting innocent civilians on Pakistan’s side.
“There were over 3,000 ceasefire violations in 2019 and over 2,400 this year so far.
“Such daily military provocations are accompanied by repeated threats of aggression by India’s political and military leaders. Pakistan has acted with restraint to these provocations and threats, but as we demonstrated in February 2019, Pakistan will respond decisively to any Indian aggression with the full force of our capabilities,” the envoy added.