Army retaliates to thwart major intrusion bids in Poonch, Kupwara

A house badly damaged in Pakistan shelling in Shahpur sector of Poonch on Friday. -Excelsior/Gurjeetbhajan
A house badly damaged in Pakistan shelling in Shahpur sector of Poonch on Friday. -Excelsior/Gurjeetbhajan

3 Pak army personnel killed, 14 injured

Houses damaged, panic among civilians on LoC

Sanjeev Pargal
JAMMU, Feb 21: Indian Army today retaliated very effectively the Pakistan shelling and firing on the Line of Control (LoC) in Poonch and Kupwara sectors in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir in which three Pakistani troops were killed and 14 others injured as the Army thwarted plots by militants at both places to infiltrate into the Indian territory under covering fire.
Two Pakistan army jawans were killed and an equal number of them were injured in Indian retaliation across Shahpur sector of Poonch district of Jammu region while another Pakistan army personnel died and 12 others were wounded across Kupwara district of Kashmir, credible inputs revealed.
This afternoon, Pakistan army resumed mortar shelling and firing targeting forward defence posts and villages at Shahpur, Kirni, Qasba and Banpat in Poonch district inviting heavy retaliation from the Indian troops.
“There were very specific inputs that the Pakistan army was trying to push trained militants into the Indian territory under the cover of shelling and firing,” sources said, adding that exchange of firing between the two sides continued for about two and half hours.
Reports later said at least two Pakistani troops were killed and two others injured in the Indian Army retaliation while trying to push trained militants of Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) and Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) outfits into the Indian territory. Casualty figure could be even higher as more details from the other side were awaited.
Reports said another Pakistan army personnel was killed and 12 others injured when their two to three posts were decimated in retaliation by the Indian Army across Kupwara sector of Kashmir.
In this sector also, reports said, Pakistan army was trying to facilitate infiltration attempt by the militants and the troops had to retaliate to stop intrusion bids.
While there were no casualties on the Indian side, a teenage girl became unconscious in view of intense shelling and firing at Shahpur. However, some houses were damaged in the shelling as Pakistan army pounded civilian locations at all four places in Shahpur, Kirni, Qasba and Banpat.
Exact number of houses damaged in Pakistan army shelling couldn’t be ascertained immediately. However, according to reports, at least 7 houses were damaged. The civilians, however, had narrow escape as mortar shells exploded inside or close to some houses. People, however, remained confined to their houses and bunkers since this afternoon.
“Following heavy Indian retaliation, the Pakistani guns were silenced,” sources said and added that the infiltration attempts by the militants under Pakistan cover of firing were foiled by the troops. The militants were unable to infiltrate, they said.
Late tonight, Pakistan army also opened firing and shelling in Keri sector of Sunderbani in Rajouri district. The Indian Army retaliated.
Worthwhile to mention here that large number of militants were camping at launch pads on Pakistan side of the LoC across twin border districts of Poonch and Rajouri waiting for an opportunity to infiltrate into Jammu and Kashmir especially under covering fire by the Pakistani troops.
However, well aware of the designs of Pakistan army and militants, the Indian troops have been maintaining very high alert along the LoC and haven’t allowed Pakistani designs to succeed.
As per the reports, there could be more than 100 militants camping at the launch pads on Pakistan side of the LoC across Jammu and Kashmir and all of them were hardcore cadre of Jaish and Lashkar outfits who were equipped with arms, ammunition and explosives and were waiting for infiltration into J&K.
Only yesterday, Army chief Gen Manoj Mukund Naravane had stated that terror training camps were active on Pakistan side and large number of militants were being trained there. He had stated that there were 250-300 militants at any given time in the training camps in Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK).