Pakistan border firing kills minor, BSF man (Roundup)

Jammu, Oct 24 (IANS) An eight-year-old boy and a BSF trooper were killed in fresh Pakistani firing early on Monday that also damaged at least 50 villages in Jammu region, officials said.

The Border Security Force (BSF) retaliated and the exchange of fire continued for hours. Intermittent exchange of fire was on till Monday evening at various places along the 230-km border in Jammu district of Jammu and Kashmir.

Police said the mortars from Pakistan Rangers landed in residential areas damaging at least a dozen houses, crops and livestock in the border areas. A police station and a police vehicle were also damaged.

“A BSF trooper, Sushil Kumar, and an eight-year-old boy were killed in heavy shelling and automatic gunfire by Pakistan Rangers,” a police spokesperson said here.

Another BSF trooper and seven civilians were injured.

“Over a dozen residential houses were damaged by mortar shells fired by Pakistan troops. A large number of shells landed in agricultural fields in the affected villages damaging standing crops and vegetables.”

The firing by Pakistani border guards was the latest in a series of violations of the 2003 ceasefire agreement with India, the spokesperson said.

He alleged that the Pakistani side resorted to unprovoked shelling from 2 a.m. in the R.S. Pura, Pargwal and Kanachak sectors.

But the Pakistan military alleged that the Indian border guards killed two civilians, including a year-old girl, in unprovoked firing early Monday.

A statement from Pakistan’s military media wing, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), said the firing from the Indian side left a civilian, Mohammed Latif, and a minor, Haniya, dead. Seven civilians were injured.

In Jammu, the BSF identfied the slain trooper as Head Constable Sushil Kumar, a resident of Kurukshetra in Haryana. He was inducted in the force in 1992.

He was the second BSF trooper killed in the cross border firing in the last three days.

On Sunday, a constable, Gurnam Singh, succumbed to his injuries in firing by Pakistani snipers that took place on Friday. Gurnam Singh belonged to Bhalesar village of Jammu’s R.S. Pura.

The BSF launched a counter-offensive on Friday and claimed to have killed seven Pakistan Rangers and a militant across the border.

On the Indian side, residents in the border villages of Jammu said they spent another sleepless night as shells from Pakistan burst in the agricultural fields close to their homes.

Border forces of the two countries have been regularly trading fire as India-Pakistan ties soured first in July after an ongoing unrest erupted in the Kashmir Valley following the death of a militant commander.

The unrest has left at least 92 Kashmiris dead since July 8.

The ties deteriorated further after militants killed 19 Indian soldiers at a military base in Uri of Jammu and Kashmir on September 18.

In response, the Indian Army on September 29 carried surgical strikes at terror launch pads, killing an unspecified number of militants and their sympathisers in Pakistan-administered Kashmir.

Since then, the forces of the two countries have regularly targeted each other’s military posts along the International Border and the 740-km-long LoC that divides Jammu and Kashmir between India and Pakistan.

–IANS

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