11 Die in Firing Along Indo-Pak Border

By Amin Ahmad
2015.08.28
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150828-IN-victim-620 Shivang, 10, who was injured in cross-border firing, is treated at a hospital in Jammu, India, Aug. 28, 2015.
AFP

Tensions rose high as 11 civilians were killed and 58 others injured Friday when India and Pakistan exchanged fire across their shared border, according to news reports.

The deadly flare-up occurred less than a week after high-level talks aimed at resolving long-simmering issues between the two countries were cancelled at the last minute. On Aug. 22, Pakistan called off talks over India’s insistence on only talking about terrorism and its refusal to discuss the Kashmir problem, a chief Pakistani demand.

India and Pakistan fought three wars since the partition of the Indian sub-continent in 1947, two of them over Kashmir, a predominantly Muslim region claimed by both countries.

According to the Pakistani military, eight civilians were killed and 40 others were injured on Pakistan’s side of the border, when the Indian Border Security Force fired artillery shells near the town of Sialkot, the Dawn newspaper reported.

India said that three of its civilians died near the border in Jammu, when Pakistani rangers fired indiscriminately into Indian territory.

Indian officials, however, said the firing had stopped, but an uneasy calm prevailed in the area.

“The 18 injured are being treated at the local health center in R.S. Pura and Jammu hospital. The locals are staying in their homes and the situation is under control now,” Jammu Police Superintendent Rajiv Panday told BenarNews.

“The Pakistani army resorted to unprovoked shooting, using automatic rifles and machine guns, mostly along Sai Khurd and adjoining Abdullian villages near the international border, forcing the Indian troops to retaliate. The exchange of fire lasted for about two hours and Indian troops retaliated forcefully,” he added.

The dead included Bimla Devi, 40, Subhash Chander, 43, and Pawan Kumar, 55 – all residents of the town of R.S. Pura, Panday said.

Panic grips town

Local residents said they felt unsafe following the day’s skirmish.

“The Pakistani army can resort to shelling on this side anytime in the future. We are feeling immense insecurity to our lives,” Majid Ahmad Khan, 22, a school dropout from Abdullian village, told BenarNews.

“We appeal to the authorities to shift us to safer places away from Pakistani firing range to avoid loss to life. Scores of our livestock, mostly sheep, have been killed in Friday’s shelling. The authorities should compensate the loss of affected families, as most people depend on livestock for their livelihood,” he added.

Mohammad Aslam Cheechi, 45, a butcher, said, “Around 4 a.m., I woke up hearing the deafening sound of shelling from Pakistani side.”

“Along with my family members and ailing father, I confined myself in a room. We did not venture out till the firing stopped around 6 a.m. An hour later, senior police and army officials visited the village and assured us proper protection,” he added.

Pakistan lodges protest

Hours after the cross-border firing, Pakistan lodged a strong protest over alleged ceasefire violations by India before T.C.A. Raghavan, the Indian High Commissioner in Islamabad.

Pakistan Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry summoned Raghavan to convey that Friday’s actions by the Indian side were unacceptable, The Indian Express reported.

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