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Pakistan violates ceasefire in Balakote, 1,700 shifted to safer areas

LiveMint logoLiveMint 17-05-2017 PTI

Jammu: Pakistan rangers violated the ceasefire again on Wednesday by firing on forward posts along the LoC in Balakote sector of Jammu of Kashmir. “Pakistan army resorted to firing on forward posts along the LoC in Balakote sector from 0050 hours today,” a defence spokesman said.

Pakistan troops also fired on forward posts and civilian areas on Tuesday night along the LoC in Jammu and Kashmir’s Rajouri district. The firing continued till 1.30am, the spokesman said. He said the Pakistan army initiated indiscriminate firing of small arms, automatic weapons and 82 mm and 120 mm mortars from 6.30pm last night along the LoC in Nowshera sector.

The firing continued till 9pm on Tuesday. The Pakistan rangers fired shells on the intervening night of 15-16 May on forward areas and civilian belts along the LoC in three belts of Rajouri district. The firing and shelling from across the border has affected over 10,000 people.

Civilian areas along the LoC in Nowshera sector were pounded with mortars, killing two civilians and injuring three others. On 13 May, Pakistani troops had pounded civilian areas and forward posts in Nowshera area with mortars, killing two civilians and injuring three.

On 15 May, Pakistan troops resorted to fresh ceasefire violation along the LoC in Nowshera sector since 4pm till late night. Four villages in Nowshera have come under small arms fire from across the LOC in Nowshera.

“Shelling started in Ans Bhandhaar areas of Nowshera in Rajouri at 2255 hours night of 15 and 16 May . Lam and Kalsian areas were also affected,” Rajouri deputy commissioner Shahid Iqbal Choudhary said. “Interdepartmental teams deputed by district administration for damage assessment reported small arms firing begins at 4pm on 15 May in village Sarya followed by villages Khamba, Anwas and Bhandar,” Choudhary said.

Nearly 1,700 people have already been evacuated from the LoC hamlets hit by shelling from Pakistani side and shifted to relief camps. Around 10,042 people from over 2,694 families have been affected by the continued shelling from across the border, the deputy commissioner said.

The district administration has provided an immediate relief of Rs1 lakh each to the next of kin of the dead and financial assistance to the injured, he said. Choudhary said the administration is prepared to make more relief camps as more than 25 buildings have been earmarked.

He added that students’ classes will be resumed this week to ensure that education doesn’t suffer. “Six ambulances have been pressed into action for shifting of injured and treatment. One mobile medical unit was stationed at Nowshera and another deputed to forward areas,” he said.

According to a home ministry reply to an RTI, Pakistan violated the ceasefire along the Line of Control (LoC) 449 times in 2016 as compared to 405 violations in 2015. 23 security personnel were killed in the two-year period.

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