After India's surgical strikes on Jaish-e-Mohammed terror camps, Pakistani troops resorted to intense shelling and firing along the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir, injuring five army jawans in Akhnoor.
The shells from 120 mm mortar guns landed in civilian areas, forcing the public to remain indoors. Many residents described it as a "war-like" situation.
Defence spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Devinder Anand said intense shelling took place all along the LoC. He said unlike the smaller size mortars, which were being used by Pakistani troops during the border skirmishes earlier, this time the shelling was heavy and artillery landed in many civilian areas. Anand added that shelling was carried out in all the major areas the army is stationed along the LoC in the Jammu region, including some strategically important locations of Nowshera, Balakote (in Poonch) and Akhnoor.
Akhnoor has a large number of defence installations. However, Anand said there were no reports of casualties. Anand described the shelling by Pakistani troops as an act of “unprovoked” firing, adding that both the small arms as well as mortars were resorted to for many hours. He said shelling was carried out in most of the areas along the LoC between India and Pakistan and started at around 5:30 pm and continued for a long time.
“Indian Army is retaliating strongly and effectively to the intense shelling at Nowshera (Kalal, Baba Khori, Kalsian, Jhanger, Rajouri (Tarkundi forward), Balakote, KG Mankote sectors. Pakistani troops also resorted to firing in Akhnoor and Krishna Ghati sectors which was effectively repulsed,” Anand said. A senior army official said the shells landed two to three kilometres inside the Indian territory. He said that the maximum distance the shells can land in Indian territory was around six kilometres from the Pakistani side. Anand said 120 mm mortar shells were rarely used.
Following the intense shelling, the locals preferred to stay indoors and the roads witnessed a deserted look. Ahead of the IAF strike, the movement of troops was increased in many areas of the border villages of Jammu, including that of Mendhar in Poonch in the past few days. Residents said fighter jets flew late Monday night over some areas, but they presumed that it was part of the “heightened” vigil along the border.
“I have never been witness to shelling of this scale. I also heard cries of people and saw smoke billowing up from the fields where the shelling took place,” said Majid Khattana, a resident of Balakote area of Poonch. Shells also landed in many areas of Mendhar sector, but not in the main city, residents said. The intense shelling triggered panic and disrupted the movement of roads for several hours. “I fear there could be many civilian casualties,” said Majid.
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Updated Date: Feb 27, 2019 13:54:18 IST