Eleven people, including six civilians, four Army soldiers and one BSF jawan, were killed and over 20 others injured in ceasefire violations by Pakistan along the Line of Control (LoC) in four districts of J&K on Friday.
According to the Army, Pakistan initiated unprovoked ceasefire violations along the LoC in multiple sectors, including Dawar in Bandipora, Keran in Kupwara, Uri and Naugam in Baramulla in the Kashmir valley.
“Pakistan used mortars and other weapons. Pakistan deliberately targeted civilian areas. Three Indian army soldiers were also killed and three soldiers were injured,” Srinagar-based Army spokesperson Colonel Rajesh Kalia said.
The Army said it retaliated strongly, causing substantial damage to Pakistan army's infrastructure and inflicting casualties across the LoC. “Several ammunition dumps and multiple terrorist launch pads have been damaged,” the Army said.
The Army also released videos that showed mortars hitting and damaging Pakistani bunkers along the LoC.
The Uri Sector of north Kashmir's Baramulla district witnessed intense shelling and firing from the Pakistan Army throughout the day, targeting around eight villages close to the LoC.
“I managed to pick up my four children just in time. If I was just four minutes late, they would have died as a shell exploded near a construction site near our house, leaving two dead,” a local resident said.
Several people living near the LoC were seen moving to safer areas, as scores of houses and sheds of civilians which were hit in the firing, caught fire.
“Six civilians died in the shelling and firing. Five injured civilians were shifted to Srinagar's Sher-i-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS) hospital,” Deputy Commissioner of Baramulla, Dr. Ghulam Nabi Itoo told The Hindu.
A BSF spokesman said Sub-Inspector Takesh Doval was also killed and another jawan injured when a mortar shell exploded in Baramulla’s Uri.
Five civilians were injured in north Kashmir’s Bandipora when shelling hit the Bagtore Sector in Gurez. “All the five injured are stable,” an official said.
At least seven civilians were reported injured in the Sawjian Sector in the Pir Panjal's Poonch in Pakistan shelling. “A bus stand was hit by the shelling, leaving the civilians injured,” an official in Poonch said.
Meanwhile, a Srinagar-based Army spokesman said suspicious movement of infiltrators was also observed at the forward posts along the LoC in the Keran Sector on Friday.
“This was accompanied by initiation of an unprovoked ceasefire violation (CFV) by Pakistan along the LoC in Keran Sector by firing mortars and other weapons. A befitting response is being given,” the Army said.
The National Conference has demanded an immediate end to such skirmishes.
“It is the people of J&K, especially those living on both sides of the LoC or international border who have to face the brunt of skirmishes between the two countries. It’s really saddening to witness innocent lives being devoured like this. We call upon both the countries to immediately stop cross border shelling,” a NC spokesman said.
Peoples Conference chief Sajad Lone condemned the shelling and termed it as “modern day barbarism”.
“My prayers with the hapless inhabitants of these areas. May sanity prevail,” Mr. Lone, also spokesman of the Peoples Alliance for Gupkar Declaration, said.