Army targets LeT, JeM terror launch pad in Neelum Valley; many dead

Image shows terror launch pad hit in forward area of Neelum Valley in PoK.
Image shows terror launch pad hit in forward area of Neelum Valley in PoK.

2 Pak jawans killed, bid to regain posts foiled
Situation remains tense on LoC
Sanjeev Pargal
JAMMU, Dec 21: Pakistan army last night made fresh attempt to regain its lost posts in Khour and Pallanwalla areas on the Line of Control (LoC) in Akhnoor sector of this district but their attempt was foiled by the Indian troops resulting into death of at least two Pakistani troopers while Army destroyed a terror launch pad of Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) outfits in forward area of Neelum Valley in Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) opposite Kupwara sector, leaving many militants inside dead.
There has been spurt in ceasefire violations by Pakistan army on the LoC in Jammu and Kashmir during past few days, the latest one being witnessed on December 19 when Pakistan’s Brigade Headquarters and Special Services Group (SSG) Centres were hit in the Indian retaliation leading to several casualties, both fatal and non fatal, across the LoC.
Sources told the Excelsior that after a gap of about a fortnight, Pakistan army last night made yet another attempt, third in past one month, to regain four to five posts which they had lost in retaliatory action by the Indian troops earlier, by resorting to very heavy volume of firing and shelling on forward posts and civilian locations along LoC in Khour and Pallanwalla sectors of Akhnoor tehsil.
The Indian Army which was anticipating such an attempt by Pakistani troops retaliated Pakistani shelling and firing very effectively, leading to heavy exchanges that lasted for about two hours. Thereafter, small arms firing also continued for next three hours. However, Pakistan army failed in its plot to regain the last posts.
“At least two Pakistan army personnel were killed in retaliation action by the Indian troops. Their bodies were lying on the LoC but till this afternoon, Pakistan army made no attempt to retrieve the bodies even as there was no firing from the Indian side during the day,’’ sources said, adding that Pakistan was desperate to regain the lost posts to use them for facilitating infiltration attempts into the Indian territory.
Subsequent intercepts confirmed the killing of two Pakistan army personnel in Indian retaliatory firing and extensive damage to one Pakistani bunker. However, there were no casualties or damage on the Indian side in Pakistani firing.
A physical verification, however, could not be carried out because of the tense situation along the Line of Control, sources said.
“There was heavy exchange of fire between India and Pakistan armies after the later violated the ceasefire in Akhnoor sector during the intervening night of December 20 and 21,” Jammu-based Army PRO Lt Col Devender Anand said, adding further details are awaited.
He said the Pakistan army also initiated unprovoked ceasefire violation by firing of small arms and shelling with mortars and artillery in Keri Battal area of Sunderbani sector in Rajouri district around 11.30 am.
“Indian Army retaliated befittingly,” he said adding the heavy exchange of fire between the two sides was going on when last reports were received.
A police official said a number of forward villages were hit by the Pakistani shells but there was no immediate report of any casualty.
“People have been advised to stay inside underground bunkers and take precautionary measures to avoid any casualty during Pakistan shelling and firing,” he added.
Meanwhile, a terror launch pad has been destroyed by the Army in Neelum Valley of Pakistan occupied Kashmir opposite Kupwara sector on the LoC.
Sources said the terror launch pad was targeted by the Indian Army in forward area of Neelum Valley after developing specific inputs that the Pakistan army personnel had kept militants of LeT and JeM outfits there to push them into the Kashmir valley.
“The terror camp was accurately hit,’’ sources said but couldn’t confirm number of casualties of the militants as the camp caught fire and was destroyed. The camp was being protected by Pakistan army’s Special Services Group from four adjacent buildings. However, many militants hiding inside the camp were believed to have been killed.
Sources said the camp had been located in the village but Pakistan army had already shifted civilian population from there and structures had been occupied by the Pakistan SSG personnel.
Ambulances were seen moving in the area.
However, the LoC in twin border districts of Poonch and Rajouri remained peaceful since yesterday. LoC in these two districts has been very active for the past several months with Pakistan army regularly resorting to shelling and firing on the Indian forward posts as well as civilian locations.
Ceasefire violations by Pakistan army which started after February 14 Pulwama attack in which 44 CRPF personnel were martyred, had intensified since August 5 when the Centre scrapped special Constitutional provisions of Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcated the State into two Union Territories of J&K and Ladakh.
Pakistan army has suffered heavy casualties and infrastructural losses in retaliation by the Indian troops but it continued to aid and abet infiltration by the militants on the LoC under the covering fire. However, majority of infiltration attempts have been foiled by the troops.
Meanwhile, India and Pakistan troops exchanged heavy shelling along the LoC in North Kashmir today.
An official said that Pakistani troops violated ceasefire along the LoC in Keran sector of Kupwara this evening.
He said that firing started at around 4:15 p.m. and continued till 7:30 p.m. “Both the sides used mortars and heavy machine guns to target each other’s posts”, he said.