Five killed, seven injured in Pakistan shelling


Jammu, March 18:  Five civilians were killed and seven others, including five soldiers, injured on Sunday in indiscriminate shelling by Pakistan army on the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir‘s Poonch district, officials said.

Police said a shell fired by Pakistan army hit the house of a civilian identified as Muhammad Ramzan Chowdhary in Devta village of Balakote sector of Poonch district in the morning, killing him, his wife Malka Bi and their three sons were killed.

“Two of his daughters were critically injured. They have been airlifted to the super speciality government medical college hospital in Jammu city.

“Five soldiers were also injured in Pakistan firing and shelling in the area,” police said adding that civilians living in the area have been shifted to safer places after shelling and firing exchanges intensified following retaliation by the Indian Army.

Defence Ministry spokesman, Lt Col Devender Anand said: “Pakistan Army initiated unprovoked and indiscriminate firing from 7.45 a.m. to 11.30 a.m. along the LoC in Balakote sector using small arms, 81mm and 120mm mortars.

Noting Pakistan continues “in its cowardly design of targeting innocent civilians, their homes and livestock in villages close to the LoC,” he said that was of serious concern as it was attacking “localities much deep inside Indian territory, almost three to four km, from the LoC, where there is no army deployment or any related installation and even no equipment”.

“The deliberate provocation has resulted in loss of five precious and innocent civilian lives,” he said, adding that Indian troops “retaliated strongly, effectively and proportionately to the dastardly act”.

Anand also said that the two injured girls of the family were evacuated to Jammu by helicopter.

“The crew of the helicopter belonging to 132 Forward area control flight, Flight Lt Mittal and Flying Officer Akash, quickly swung into action and landed at Rajouri at 12 noon. They were airborne with Maureen, aged 7 years, and Nourin, aged 10 years, within the next two minutes.”

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