The Indian Army on Wednesday launched a counter-offensive against Pakistan along the LoC after three Indian soldiers were killed, with the body of one mutilated in a cross-LoC attack, even as Pakistani troops continued to shell Indian positions, injuring six jawans.
Brigadier General Staff (BGS) of Northern Command, Brig PS Gotra said the India Army launched a counter-offensive along the Line of Control in retaliation to Tuesday's offensive in Machhil sector of Kashmir.
The Indian Army posts are responding strongly and giving a befitting reply, Defence PRO Manish Mehta said.
Pakistan Army also fired at Indian posts along the LoC in Bhimber Gali, Krishna Ghati and Nowshera sectors.
Four jawans were injured in shelling by Pakistani troops along the LoC, an Army officer said, according to PTI. "Two BSF jawans suffered minor injuries in ceasefire violation by Pakistan troops along LoC in Bhimbher Gali area of Rajouri district at 0945 hours on Wednesday," a senior BSF officer said. They are out of danger, he added.
In the cross-LoC attack by suspected Pakistani terrorists, three Indian soldiers were killed on Tuesday, with body of one of them being mutilated.
The ambush on the Army patrol took place in Machhil sector of Kashmir, following which the Indian Army vowed heavy "retribution". This is the second such incident of mutilation of the body of an Indian soldier in the same sector since 28 October.
Pakistan said that nine civilians were killed and nine others were injured when Indian fire hit a bus in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, reported The Indian Express. Three Army personnel were also killed, added the report. Meanwhile, India said that Pakistan targeted civilian in Machhil, Keran and Gurez sectors.
Meanwhile, Indian Army's Director General of Military Operations Lt General Ranbir Singh on Wednesday talked to his Pakistan counterpart, an official said. While India raised the issue of mutilation of an Indian soldier's body, Pakistan talked of civilian deaths in the firing on the border.
"The Pakistan DGMO was exhorted to exercise strict control over their (Pakistan) troops to refrain from any nefarious activities. This would lead to return of normalcy along the Line of Control," the official statement said, according to IANS.
Lt. General Singh told his Pakistan counterpart that if "any ceasefire violations were initiated by Pakistan troops or any infiltration attempts were made by terrorists from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir or territory under the neighbouring country's control, it would invite an appropriate response by the Indian Army".
The Pakistan DGMO, meanwhile, informed the Indian side about the alleged civilian casualties on their side due to Indian firing along the Line of Control.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said on Thursday that Pakistan has shown utmost restraint in the face of Indian belligerence and will not tolerate India's "deliberate targeting" of civilians and ambulances.
"We cannot tolerate deliberate targeting of innocent civilians, particularly children and women, the ambulances and the civilian transport," Sharif said, Dawn reported.
Pakistan also summoned Indian Deputy High Commissioner JP Singh for the third consecutive day on Wednesday to condemn "unprovoked ceasefire violations" at the LoC and claimed Indian troops were "intentionally" targeting civilian areas.
According to The Economic Times, this escalation of tension along the border is "‘provocation tactic’ to trigger a reaction and political tailspin ahead of retirement of Pakistan Army chief General Raheel Sharif on 29 November". The report added that New Delhi wants a smooth transition and wants to avoid extension of Raheel's term, which the Indian response at border was "befitting but “below the radar”.
Meanwhile, Spokesperson of Ministry of External Affairs Vikas Swarup on Thursday said that MEA has summoned the Pakistan Deputy High Commissioner, and stated that despite calls for restraint Pakistan, violated ceasefire 27 times from 12-21 November.
MEA summoned Pakistan's Dy HC & stated that despite calls for restrain Pakistan violated ceasefire 27 times from 12-21 Nov-Vikas Swarup, MEA pic.twitter.com/Dp1vIGHIZc
— ANI (@ANI_news) November 24, 2016
The MEA has also issued a demarche and Swarup stated that these acts are a clear violation of the 2003 ceasefire agreement.
Swarup further said that the government protested the targeting of 18 villages along LoC between 16 and 21 November by the Pakistan Army and raised concerns over the continued attempts of infiltration.
Swarup did not rule out Sartaj Aziz but said, "Talks and terror can't go together. Environment has to be terror free for talks to take place."
The MEA also expects early repatriation and safe return of Sepoy Chandu Babulal Chavan, who inadvertently crossed LoC around seven weeks back.
We expect early repatriation and safe return of Sepoy Chandu Babulal Chavan, who inadvertently crossed LoC over 7wks ago: MEA pic.twitter.com/zIMkcojXtv
— ANI (@ANI_news) November 24, 2016
With inputs from agencies