At least 15 Pakistani soldiers could have died in retaliatory firing along the Jammu border, the Border Security Force (BSF) said on Friday, as repeated ceasefire violations sparked panic among residents of frontier villages.
“We will never take the initiative to fire upon the civilian population. But, if they will continue to fire, as they have been doing, then they will be getting befitting reply from the BSF and the Indian side,” said Director General Arun Kumar.
The Rangers were killed in retaliatory firing after RS Pura, Akhnoor, Poonch, Sunderbani and Noushera sectors came under heavy firing from Pakistan side on Thursday night, BSF sources said.
Two civilians were killed — one in Khor belt of Jammu district and the other in Poonch’s Mendar sector — in Pakistani firing, officials said. A girl was wounded with Pakistan’s firing and mortar shelling targeting Indian posts and civilian areas along the Line of Control, the de facto border, and the international border in Jammu, Kathua and Rajouri districts.
Exactly a week ago, seven Pakistani soldiers were killed along the International Border by the BSF.
Firing has been on for the last 24 hours in Rajouri, Samba, Abdullia, RS Pura and Suchetgarh, officials said.
Heavy shelling from Pakistan began around 5 am along the Line of Control in Nowshera, Sundarbani and Pallanwala districts. BSF soldier Jitender Singh, 46, died when Pakistani Rangers fired a mortar shell in RS Pura sector.
“This has never happened before, such heavy firing from Pakistan…Everyone is so scared,” a resident of Rajouri said.
Rajouri station house officer Mohd Younis Choudhary said: “We are ready…(we) don’t want any casualties. This is heavy shelling. (We) have asked locals to stay indoors.”
Relations between India and Pakistan have hit a new low after four militants attacked an Indian Army base in northern Kashmir’s Uri in September, killing 19 soldiers . India blamed Pakistan-based militants for the assault, a charge Islamabad promptly denied.