Five members of a family were Sunday killed and two others injured in heavy shelling by Pakistani troops along the Line of Control (LoC) in Balakote sector of Poonch district, a senior police officer said. Five army men were also wounded in the firing in the frontier district.
Army PRO Lt Col Devender Anand said the ceasefire violation by Pakistan in Bimber Gali started around 7:45 am. In the firing five army troopers were also wounded.
“They were specifically targeting civilian areas,” he said. “ The Pakistan army initiated unprovoked and indiscriminate firing from 0745h to 1130h along the Line of Control (LoC) in Balakote sector using small arms, 81mm and 120mm mortars,” he said, adding that “Pakistan was continuing” with its designs of “targeting innocent civilians, their homes and livestock in villages close to the Line of Control.’’ “ The deliberate provocation has resulted in loss of five precious and innocent civilian lives. Indian Army has retaliated strongly, effectively and proportionately to the act,” he said.
Director General of Police S P Vaid in a tweet said, “Due to shelling from across (LoC) in Balakote sector of Poonch, 5 civilians of a family died & 2 are injured who are being shifted to hospital”.
The civilian casualties occurred in forward village of Devta Dhar when a shell hit the house of Choudhary Mohammad Ramzan, a police official said. The dead include the house owner, a woman, a boy and a minor girl, he said.
In the mortar explosion while five members of the family died two minors sustained critical injuries and were later airlifted to the Government Medical College and Hospital (GMC&H), Jammu, for advance treatmen. The deceased were identified as Mohd Ramzan (45) s/o Rehmatullha, Malika Bi (40) w/o Mohd Ramzan, Mohd Rehman (19) s/o Mohd Ramzan, Mohd Rizwan (18) s/o Mohd Ramzan and Razaq Ramzan (08) s/o Mohd Ramzan all residence of village Devta. The injured were identified as Nooren Akther (14) d/o Mohd Ramzan and Marin Akther (07) d/o Mohd Ramzan both residence of village Devta.
The injured army men were identified as L/Nk Gavrav Vishnak, 34, Rfn, Budha Rai, 33, Jitender Verma, 23, Rahul Pandey, 24 and Sub Desh Bandhu, 47.
The police official said heavy shelling was going on from both the sides. Army troops retaliated strongly and effectively to silence Pakistani guns, he said.
The firing was reported deep inside Indian territory almost 3-4 Km from LoC. The firing was retaliated by Indian army but during the “cross fire a shell fired by the Pakistani army directly hit a kaccha house kitchen when the family was having breakfast,” added an official.
Meanwhile the district administration announced to provide rupees 1 lakh cash assistance to the next kin of the deceased family members. The killings have triggered a sense of fear and panic among the border dwellers some of whom have migrated to safer places.