India: 2 Children Killed in Kashmir Border Shelling

Amin Masoodi
Srinagar, India
2017-10-02
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171002-IN-kashmir-620.jpg Indian paramilitary troops patrol on the outskirts of Srinagar, Sept. 14, 2017.
AFP

The Pakistani army launched unprovoked shelling along the Line of Control (LoC) in Indian Kashmir on Monday, killing two children and wounding 12 civilians, four of them critically, Indian officials said.

Meanwhile, Indian army officials said they killed three militants on Monday.

The killings of two children in Poonch district came amid heightened tensions at the LoC, the de-facto border dividing the disputed Himalyan region of Kashmir between India and Pakistan. Authorities identified the children killed as Poonch residents Asrar Ahmad 10, and Yasmeen Akhtar, 15.

“The Pakistani army resorted to intense and unprovoked shelling early Monday morning and Indian forces retaliated with full force. Two minors including a girl were killed in shelling. The shelling from across border stopped around 11:30 a.m.,” Poonch deputy commissioner Tariq Ahmad Zargar told BenarNews.

“Four critically injured civilians were airlifted to a tertiary hospital in Jammu city for advanced treatment. Since the harvesting of crops is on near the LoC, the affected villagers are not willing to shift to safer places leaving behind livestock and crops – the only source of their livelihood,” he added.

The villages hit hardest by the shelling include Shahpur, Kirni, Banvat, Degwar, and Bagyal Dhara, according to Zargar.

Diplomatic ties between India and Pakistan reached a new low after India accused the Pakistani Border Action Team of crossing the LoC and beheading two Border Security Force guards in Poonch district on May 1.

On Sept. 22, Maj. Gen. Sahir Shamshad Mirza, director general of Military Operations Pakistan, expressed concerns over deliberate targeting of Pakistani civilian areas around the LoC with his Indian counterpart, according to Pakistan Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR).

Kashmir, which is claimed by India and Pakistan, has been grappling with a separatist insurgency that has killed more than 70,000 people since the late 1980s.

Following a 2003 ceasefire agreement, the two countries have accused one another of frequent violations.

The Pakistani army violated the ceasefire 285 times from Jan. 1 to Aug. 1 this year, a significant increase from the 228 violations for 2016, according to Indian army figures.

ISPR countered by saying Indian forces have carried out more than 872 ceasefire violations along the LoC since Jan. 1, killing 40 civilians and wounding 148.

Three ‘militants’ killed

Also on Monday, the Indian army claimed its troops killed three militants after foiling two infiltration bids along the LoC in north Kashmir.

“Hours after an infiltration bid was foiled and a militant killed along LoC in Kupwara district, two militants were gunned down by army after an infiltration bid was foiled in Rampur sector along LoC in north Kashmir’s Baramulla district,” defense spokesman Col. Rajesh Kalia told BenarNews

“Two weapons were recovered from the slain infiltrators in Rampur. A search operation launched earlier today was called off this evening,” he said.

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