J&K: 3 killed in shelling along LoC; Pakistan uses heavy guns

Shelling refugees AFP People who fled their homes due to shelling from Pakistan at a community relief camp in Mendhar | AFP

Three members of a family were killed and two others injured as Pakistani forces heavily shelled areas along the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir's Poonch district on Friday, officials said. Shelling continued into the night, according to media reports, even as tension was expected to reduce with the release of Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman by Pakistan.

Pakistani forces targeted civilian areas with mortar bombs and heavy guns, including howitzers of 105mm calibre, they said, adding that Indian forces retaliated effectively.

In the heavy shelling, three members of a family were killed and another was injured in Salotri in Poonch district, where shells hit several houses, they said.

Twenty-four-year-old Rubana Kosar and her son Fazan (5) and nine-month-old daughter Shabnam were killed in the shelling. Rubana's husband Mohd Yunis was injured, they said. Earlier in the day, a woman, identified as Naseem Akhtar, was injured in the firing by Pakistani forces in the Mankote area of Poonch, officials said.

Besides Salotri and Mankote, shelling also took place in Krishnagati and Balakote areas in Poonch district.

In violation of the ceasefire agreement with India, Pakistani forces have been shelling areas along the LoC in Rajouri and Poonch districts for eight consecutive days. On Thursday, a woman was killed and a jawan was injured when the Pakistan Army heavily shelled civilian areas and forward posts in six sectors along the LoC in Jammu and Kashmir's Poonch and Rajouri districts, drawing retaliation from the Indian Army.

The Pakistan Army has violated the ceasefire over 60 times during the last one week by targeting over 70 civilian and forward areas along the LoC in Poonch, Rajouri, Jammu and Baramulla districts of Jammu and Kashmir, in which one woman was killed and nine persons were injured.

In view of the prevailing situation, authorities have ordered temporary closure of educational institutions in a 5km radius along the the LoC in Rajouri and Poonch districts.

They have asked all border dwellers to remain inside their homes. Amid high tension along the LoC, Northern Army Commander Lt Gen Ranbir Singh, accompanied by the White Knight Corps Commander, Lt Gen Paramjit Singh, visited forward posts in Rajouri Sector to review the operational preparedness on Thursday.

The year 2018 had witnessed the highest number of ceasefire violation, numbering 2,936 by Pakistani troops, in the last 15 years.

Pakistan continues to violate the 2003 ceasefire agreement with India despite repeated calls for restraint and adherence to the pact during flag meetings between the two sides.