Long range mortars used, shells land close to Poonch
LoC tense, people panicky; shift to bunkers
JAMMU, Dec 3: Having suffered four fatal casualties including two of its officers in Rakhchikri sector a day before, Pakistan army today targeted innocent civilians from the same sector on the Line of Control (LoC) pounding several forward villages with long range mortar shells and automatic weapons in Poonch district, killing two persons including a woman and an 11th class student and injuring nine others, two of them seriously.
After gap of several days, Pakistan army today used long range 120mm mortar shells to directly pound civilian areas at Shahpur, Kirni, Qasba, Bandi Chechiyan, Malti Top and Kalsan and their surroundings in Poonch district causing extensive damage to civilian property besides resulting into two fatal casualties of civilians and injuries to nine others.
Some of the mortar shells landed at village Tokri, located just two and half kilometers from Poonch town, causing panic among the people not only in the border belt but also in the areas surrounding Poonch town with big bangs of mortar shell explosions clearly heard in the town from 2 pm onwards.
Shelling and firing stopped around 4.30 pm.
SSP Poonch Romesh Angral told the Excelsior that several civilian areas were directly hit by mortar shelling in which two civilians were killed and nine others injured. He said police teams rushed to the villages and evacuated the shelling victims with the help of local people and shifted them to the District Hospital Poonch where two of them were declared as brought dead and nine others were admitted for treatment.
Two injured were later referred to the Government Medical College (GMC) Jammu in view of their critical condition, Angral said.
The dead have been identified as Shaoaib Ahmad, 16, son of Mohammad Bashir, an 11th class student of Christ School Poonch and Gulnaz Akhter, 35, wife of Tariq Hussain, a resident of Bandi Chechian.
Two seriously injured civilians who were referred to the GMC Jammu included Nazart Hussain Shah, 20, son of Arif Hussain Shah and Mohammad Ayoub, 30, son of Fateh Mohammad, both residents of Bandi Chechian.
Seven injured who were undergoing treatment in the District Hospital Poonch have been identified as Shaun Akhtar, 22, wife of Gulzar Ahmed, a resident of Mankote, Muni Hussain Shah, 22, son of Manzoor Hussain Shah, Rehan Ahmed, 5, son of Mohammad Tariq, Nazir Hussain, 55, son of Attah Mohammad and Fatima Bi, 18, daughter of Mohammad Mushtaq, all residents of Bandi Chechian, Fatima Jaan 35, wife of Abdul Rashid and Shahjaan, 22 wife of Abdul Qayoom, both residents of Shahpur.
Bandi Chechian, Shahpur and Mankote villages were worst hit by Pakistan shelling where all casualties, both dead and injured, were reported.
The exact details of damage caused to civilian property in heavy Pakistan shelling for over two consecutive hours during the day were awaited, but sources said number of houses and cattle sheds have been damaged and some cattle might have perished. Details will be known only after the civilians are able to move out and the civil officials visit the spot for assessment of losses.
Though Pakistan army had earlier also used long range mortar shells of 120mm to target civilian population, this was after long time that they fired the same shells to pound civil areas in Poonch district, a result of which some of the shells fell just two and half kilometers from Poonch town.
People in all forward villages of Poonch confined themselves to their houses and bunkers after heavy shelling by Pakistan this afternoon, which was responded very effectively by the Indian troops. According to reports, Pakistan army was also reported to have suffered casualties and damage in the Indian retaliation but exact details were not known immediately.
A day before, Indian Army had retaliated Pakistan shelling and firing very effectively in Rakhchikri and Rawlakote sectors opposite Poonch district leading to four casualties of Pakistan army including two officers besides injuries to some others. Four posts of Pakistan army were razed to ground.
“Having failed to hit forward defence posts, Pakistan army in frustration targeted civilian areas from the same sector, killing and injuring innocent border dwellers,’’ sources said.
There has been spurt in ceasefire violations by Pakistan army on the LoC in twin border districts of Poonch and Rajouri since August 5 when the Central Government had scrapped special Constitutional provisions of Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcated the erstwhile State into two Union Territories of J&K and Ladakh.
In retaliatory shelling and firing by the Indian Army, Pakistani troops have suffered heavy casualties and infrastructural damages.