Girl killed, 4 civilians injured, 40 houses damaged in shelling

Sanjeev Pargal

A girl killed in Pakistan shelling and a mortar shell that killed her in Sabjian sector on Friday. Another pic on page 11. —Excelsior/Harbhajan
A girl killed in Pakistan shelling and a mortar shell that killed her in Sabjian sector on Friday. Another pic on page 11.

JAMMU, Oct 3: Pakistan Army continued heavy shelling and firing in Sabjian sector of Poonch district for second consecutive day today directly targeting six villages and eight forward posts of the Army this afternoon killing a teen-aged girl and injuring four others as several 81mm mortar shells, fired from across the Line of Control (LoC), fell inside houses and fields of the people, triggering fresh panic among the people. At least 40 houses suffered minor damage in six villages in Pakistan shelling.
Simultaneously, Pakistan also started heavy firing along the International Border in Arnia and Pargwal sectors while in another incident, an Army jawan was injured in a mine blast at Makhyari Dhok of Sabjian sector.
Late tonight at about 11.45 pm, the Rangers started heavy mortar shelling at Sei, Kaku-De-Kothe and surrounding villages in Arnia sector. Details of damage, if any, were awaited.
Official sources and eyewitnesses told the Excelsior that Pakistan Army started heavy firing with automatic weapons and shelling with 81mm mortars targeting eight forward posts of Indian Army and six villages close to the LoC including Gagrian, Sabjian, Khet, Makhyari Dhok, Gali Pindi and Gali Maidaan in Sabjian sector of Poonch district at 2 pm today.
Pakistan Army directly fired mortar shells aiming the civilians working in the fields causing injuries to them. They also targeted the forward Indian posts with mortar shells and heavy fire arms. The troops retaliated effectively to counter Pakistan shelling and firing, sources said, adding this led to heavy exchanges in almost entire Sabjian sector till 5 pm.
The effective response given by the Indian Army prompted Pakistani troops to stop shelling and firing that lasted about four hours from 1 pm to 5 pm.
SSP Poonch Shamsheer Hussain said the dead and injured were evacuated from the site of firing and shifted to District Hospital, Poonch where 17 years old Zahira Akhter daughter of Bashir Ahmed, a resident of Gagrian was declared as brought dead as she had been hit with series of splinters of mortar shells while working in the fields.
The SSP said Incharge Sabjian Police Post ASI Raqeeb Ahmed along with 10 other police personnel shifted Zahira to hospital braving heavy shelling and firing but couldn’t save her.
Four persons injured in the shelling have been identified as Zahira Akhter’s 15 years old brother Javed Iqbal, Ghulam Mohammad, 65, son of Abdul Kardoos, Sher Bazz, 58, son of Abdul Majeed and Zulfikar Ahmed, 17, son of Bashir Ahmed, all residents of Gagrian. The SSP Poonch visited injured in the hospital.
Condition of all four injured was stated to be serious as they had sustained multiple splinters of mortar shells while working in their fields or sitting in compound of their houses. Sher Bazz was tonight referred to the Government Medical College (GMC) Jammu for specialized treatment.
Sources said at least 40 houses located close to the LoC in Sabjian belt suffered damages in Pakistan shelling. The people, who were working in the fields, deserted and fled towards safety in houses or bunkers.
Senior Army and police officials visited Sabjian sector this afternoon and assured the civilians that they didn’t need to worry as Army was giving adequate response to Pakistan firing and shelling.
Defence PRO Jammu Col Manish Mehta said Pakistan Army resorted to unprovoked firing from 2 pm to 4.50 pm in Sabjian sector using small arms and mortars.
“Our troops responded adequately,’’ he added.
Yesterday also, Pakistan Army had resorted to shelling and firing in Sabjian and Mandi sectors of Poonch district causing injuries to six civilians, including four women.
Pakistani Rangers also opened up another front on the International Border by starting heavy firing at Tent Guard and Pittal area of Arnia sector at 7.25 pm today.
Reports said the Rangers started firing in two forward areas of Arnia sector triggering panic among the villagers, who had suffered heavily at the hands of Pakistani firing in July-August in which civilians and BSF jawans had sustained fatal and non fatal casualties while there was huge destruction of property. The firing on the IB in Jammu sector had lasted nearly 45 days, which was described by the BSF as longest ever hostilities after 1971 war.
No casualties or damage was reported so far in the firing in Arnia sector, which was going on when the reports last came in.
The BSF was responding appropriately, sources said.
Last night at 9.55 pm, the Rangers had opened firing on the International Border at Chak Phagwari in Pargwal island of Akhnoor sector. The BSF jawans retaliated, leading to exchanges for 20 minutes. However, no casualties or damage was reported on the Indian side.
Meanwhile, an Army jawan was injured in a mine blast at Makhyari Dhok near the LoC in Sabjian sector of Poonch this afternoon. He has been identified as Sepoy Sandeep Kumar of 40 Rashtriya Rifles. He had sustained injuries in the leg and was shifted to hospital.
Reports said the Army jawan stepped over the mine leading to explosion in which he was injured.


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