War-like situation again on LoC; infant among 8 injured

Vehicles damaged in Pak shelling. (Inset) an unexploded mortar shell in Balakote sector on Wednesday.
Vehicles damaged in Pak shelling. (Inset) an unexploded mortar shell in Balakote sector on Wednesday.

Pak suffers heavy losses in retaliation

Excelsior Correspondent
JAMMU, Oct 18: A day ahead of Diwali festival, Pakistan army today created a war-like situation in three sectors of Balakote, Mendhar and Manjakote in twin border districts of Poonch and Rajouri, directly targeting the civilian population with heavy mortars and automatic weapons, injuring eight civilians including a two year old infant, killing and injuring a number of cattle and damaging several houses, cattle shed and other structures.
Three vehicles parked by the people inside their houses were extensively damaged after being hit by mortars. An electric transformer was among the infrastructure that suffered damages in Pakistan shelling that started around 7 am and continued for nearly three hours, sources said.
Indian Army retaliated Pakistan’s shelling and firing very effectively at all the places in three Sectors along Line of Control (LoC) causing heavy damages on Pakistan side. A number of forward Pakistani posts and bunkers were reported to have been destroyed in retaliatory shelling by the Indian side. Pakistani troops were also reported to have suffered casualties, both fatal and non-fatal in massive counter offensive launched by the Indian troops.
Sources said Pakistan army started targeting civilian areas, located near the LoC, in Balakote and Mendhar sectors of Poonch district at 7 am with 82mm mortars and heavy fire arms. Simultaneously, they violated ceasefire in Manjakote sector of Rajouri district, bordering Balakote sector of Poonch, at 7.30 am, leading to panic among the border dwellers.

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Intense mortar shelling was reported in Langiot, Balakote, Balakote Forward, Basooni, Darati, Suhala, Panjani, Goi, Gulad Top, Sandiot, Tarkundi and Kanga in Balakote and Mendhar sectors while Mangal Narh and Khori Narh villages were worst hit by shelling in Manjakote sector for almost three hours.
Five civilians were injured in Balakote and Mendhar sectors and three in Manjakote sector after mortar shells fell inside their houses.
While educational institutions were already closed in view of Diwali festival, authorities restricted movement of civilians and vehicles as the shells were landing deep inside the populated villages. Number of civilians had narrow escape as the shells exploded close to their houses.
Injured civilians had to wait for nearly an hour before they could be evacuated from the shelling hit villages. Security forces, police and local people evacuated the civilians amidst shelling and shifted them to nearest hospitals for treatment. Condition of almost all the civilians was stated to be stable and they were responding to the treatment.
Sources said more than 30 houses, shops, cattle sheds and other structures were hit by mortars and damaged extensively. Number of cattle were killed and injured in the shelling. Three private vehicles, parked by the people, inside the houses were also damaged.
“The civilian property suffered heavy damages in mortar shelling today as Pakistan army was directly aiming at villages. Number of houses were hit by mortars. Pakistani troops were trying to cause maximum casualties of civilians,” sources said but added that alertness displayed by the border people by immediately shifting to bunkers or deep inside the houses saved a number of them.
Sources said “it was virtually a war-like situation in all three sectors of Balakote, Mendhar and Manjakote for nearly three hours as mortars were raining everywhere, leaving even the injured struck in their houses for nearly an hour before they could be evacuated”.
Even though the shelling stopped around 10.30 am, majority of people remained confined to their houses and didn’t venture out anticipating more shelling from Pakistan side. For the past quite some time, the people have been moving out of their houses very cautiously all along the LoC in Poonch and Rajouri districts in view of frequent shelling and firing by the Pakistani troops, targeting civilian areas.
Senior officers from civil and police administration and others visited shelling affected villages to assess the damages caused by Pakistani action.
Eight civilians injured in Pakistan shelling today have been identified as Vasu Ram, 25, son of Shambu R/o Udhampur, Urmila Devi, 28, wife of Pappu Ram and Kusum, 30, wife of Rakesh Kumar, both residents of Madhya Pradesh. They were working as labourers in a house and were injured in Pakistan shelling at Balakote. Tariq Mehmood, 25, son of Abdul Hussain and Ayaz Ahmad, 27, son of Shadam Khan, both residents of Dharati.
Liaquat Hussain, 24, son of Muneer Hussain R/o Khorinar, his two-year old daughter Insha and Mohammad Zaffar, 50, son of Mohammad Hussain R/o Mangal Narh were injured in Manjakote sector of Rajouri district.
“All injured were responding to the treatment,” sources said.
Meanwhile, reports said that Pakistan suffered heavy losses in retaliatory action by the Indian troops during the day. There were reports that number of Pakistani posts and bunkers were hit when Indian troops retaliated and were destroyed. Pakistan army also suffered some casualties, both fatal and non-fatal but their exact numbers couldn’t be ascertained immediately.


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