Pak opens fire at 22 border outposts, over 3,000 villagers evacuated

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Pak opens fire: Over 3,000 evacuated
Jammu, Aug 23: In a major escalation, Pakistani troops on Saturday indulged in heavy "unprovoked" shelling and firing on 22 border outposts and 13 villages, killing two civilians and injuring six others including a BSF jawan along the International Border in Jammu sector.

Over 3000 people living in border hamlets have been evacuated to safe areas under a contingency plan, enforced today after the latest ceasefire violation by Pakistan soon after midnight targeting the entire border belt of Arnia and RS Pura as well as Hamirpur sub-sector in Poonch.

The BSF troops took positions and responded with equal calibre weapons to Pakistani firing which resulted in heavy exchange of fire till 0700 hours today, a senior BSF officer told PTI.

"Pak Rangers resorted to heavy shelling of 82-mm mortars and firing of automatic weaponry on 22 BoPs and civilian areas along IB in Arnia and R S Pura sub-sectors of Jammu district from 0030 hours today," the officer said.

In Jora farm, Akram Hussain and his son Aslam were killed and three other family members were injured when a Pakistan shell exploded inside their house after tearing the roof, said Sub Divisional Police officer (SDPO), RS Pura, Devender Singh.

This was heaviest unprovoked and indiscriminate firing and shelling by Pak Rangers this year along IB in Jammu frontier in violation of the 2003 ceasefire agreement, he said.

Pakistan troops also violated ceasefire twice on Saturday by resorting to heavily firing with automatic and small arms along Hamirpur sub-sector in Line of Control (LoC) in Poonch districts of Jammu and Kashmir, forcing Indian troops to retaliate strongly.

There was a heavy onslaught of 82-mm mortar shells by Pakistan Rangers on at least 13 border hamlets triggering panic among the people living along the IB.

Six persons including a BSF jawan were also injured and 5 houses suffered damaged, security officials said.

Singh, who led the evacuation and rescue operation, said that firing and shelling has taken place in entire border belt of Arnia and R S Pura.

The shelling targeted villages of Sia, Jordha farm, Treva, Nikowal, Pittal, Pindi, Top-2, Gari, Gharana, Abdullian Korotana, Korotana Khurd and Vidhipur Jattan.

Among the injured are Ajay Chowdhary of Korotana Khurd and Rani Devi of Vidhipur Jattan, besides a BSF jawan.

"At least 3000 people from seven to eight villages, falling within firing range of the Pakistani troops, were evacuated by the district administration in view of their safety and shifted to safe shelters," Divisional Commissioner, Jammu Zone, Shant Manu said.

They were housed in safe shelters in the Government High School, Rangpur in Basspur Bungalow and Government Industrial Training Institute (ITI), RS Pura. These two government buildings were among the accommodation identified by the district administration to protect civilians from Pakistan firing as a part of the contingency plan.

Administration and police official were camping in RS Pura and have made arrangements for accommodating the border villagers, he said.

The heavy firing and shelling comes after the discovery of a possible cross-border tunnel from PoK along LoC in Chalka post in Pallanwala sector of Jammu district on Friday.

There have been 16 ceasefire violations by Pakistani troops in nearly a fortnight and 18 this month.

PTI

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