2 soldiers, civilian killed; 3 injured in cross-border shelling escalation

KT NEWS SERVICE. Dated: 10/21/2019 12:40:01 AM

#6-10 Pak soldiers killed, 3 terror camps destroyed in PoK: Gen Rawat # 9 Indian soldiers killed, several injured: Pak

NEW DELHI, Oct 20: In, what is being perceived as “significant escalation” along J&K borders, both on International Border (IB) and Line of Control (LoC), Indian and Pakistan armies Sunday, in contradiction, claimed to have “killed each other’s 6-10 soldiers” in retaliation to other’s action and “inflicted heavy damage to the other side.”
Indian Army chief General Bipin Rawat stated that six to ten Pakistani soldiers and an equal number of terrorists were killed, several others were injured and three terror camps were destroyed in Neelam valley -- opposite the Tangdhar sector of Kupwara when army launched attacks on terror camps located inside Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir today.
The terror launch pads in PoK were destroyed in the artillery strikes in retaliation to cross-border firing by Pakistan in Tangdhar to push terrorists into the Indian territory, he added. During the day, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh spoke to Gen Bipin Rawat and was apprised of the developments and the situation along the LoC.
In the meanwhile, Pakistan army’s Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) spokesperson also claimed to have killed nine soldiers of the Indian army and injured several others as it (Pakistan army) “effectively responded to India’s unprovoked ceasefire violations along the Line of Control.
However, Indian side confirmed the killing of two soldiers and a civilian and injuries to three others in the ceasefire violation by Pakistan in Tangdhar sector of Kupwara in Kashmir on the intervening night of October 19-20.
Pakistan army’s ISPR spokesperson said, “Nine Indian soldiers killed, several injured. Two Indian bunkers destroyed. During exchange of fire one soldier and three civilians were killed, two soldiers and five civilians injured.”
In New Delhi, Gen Rawat, while talking to media, on the sidelines of a function, said that the army launched attacks on terror camps located inside Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir today in which three camps were destroyed and six to 10 soldiers of the Pakistan army were killed.
“On the basis of the reports that we are getting, 6 to 10 Pakistani soldiers have been killed, three terrorist camps have been destroyed. A similar number of terrorists have also been killed,” General Rawat was quoted as saying by a national news agency.
General Rawat said, “An attempt was made by terrorists to infiltrate though Tangdhar on Saturday evening. Pakistan carried out attack firing at our post in which we did suffer. As Pakistan opened fire, Indian troops retaliated. But before they could attempt the infiltration...It was decided that we target their terror camps. We had the coordinates for these camps... In the retaliatory action, we have caused severe damage to terrorist infrastructure. Terrorist camps opposite the Tangdhar sector have been destroyed. We have picked up definite information that some of the terror camps north of Pirpanjal are active. The terrorists have arrived in these camps... in that they are likely to infiltrate.”
The Army Chief also said that ever since the Article 370 has been abrogated, the force has been getting repeated inputs of infiltration by from across the border by terrorists who aimed to disturb peace and harmony in the state. “Gradually things are returning to normalcy in the Valley, but obviously there is somebody who is working behind the scenes at the behest of terrorists and agencies that are some within and some outside country, in Pakistan and POK, who are trying to disrupt the peaceful atmosphere,” said the Army Chief.
Later an army spokesperson said that they hit terrorist launch pads and Pakistan army positions with heavy artillery in retaliatory firing. “As a result calibrated escalation of area weapons was undertaken by the Indian side in which terrorist launch pads, Pakistan army posts giving incidental protection to these launch pads and certain gun positions were hit,” army spokesperson said.
“This action was taken after Pakistan army initiated unprovoked CFV to assist infiltration by terrorists into Indian territory,” the Spokesperson stated.
Defence sources said that four launch pads were targeted by the army. “It was a direct assault at the same time using heavy artillery. At least six Pakistani soldiers were killed in the firing,” one source said adding each launch pad had over 15-20 terrorists waiting to infiltrate.
The launch pads were located South of Zura in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK) and sources confirmed that Indian army had used 155mm heavy artillery guns. While small arms and heavy mortars are used during CFVs, heavy artillery has been intermittently used by both sides during escalations.
Pakistan contradicts India
Responding to army’s statement, Pakistan accused India of resorting to unprovoked CFV targetting civilians. Pakistan’s Director General Inter-Services Public Relations (DG ISPR) said on Twitter that Indian unprovoked CFVs in Jura, Shahkot and Nousehri Sectors deliberately targetted civilians.
In a series of tweets, DG ISPR Major General Asif Ghafoor said Pakistan destroyed two Indian bunkers after Indian forces deliberately targeted civilians in Jura, Shahkot and Nousheri sectors.
He said one Pakistani soldier and three civilians were martyred in the exchange of fire, while two soldiers and five civilians suffered injuries. Two of the five injured civilians succumbed to their injuries later, raising the number of civilian deaths to five, he added.
Maj Gen Ghafoor said the Indian army was targeting innocent civilians in “an attempt to justify their false claims of targeting alleged camps.”
He asserted that India’s ceasefire violations would always garner a befitting response from Pakistan. “Pakistan Army shall protect innocent civilians along LOC & inflict unbearable cost to Indian Army,” he said.
Maj Gen Ghafoor said India’s attempts to lay the ground for a false flag operation and would “continue to be exposed with truth.”
He added that the Indian military was now “raising white flag” as it faced difficulties in retrieving the dead and evacuating the injured.
The ISPR chief warned the Indians to “think before initiating unprovoked CFVs” and urged them to “respect military norms” that call for protecting innocent civilians.
He denounced the Indian media for “falsely claiming targeting of alleged camps” in Pakistan. He challenged the Indians to “get access to IOJ&K & have moral courage to cover damages caused by Pak Army.”
Maj Gen Ghafoor advised Indian journalists to learn from their Pakistani counterparts as he urged them to follow journalistic ethics and report with responsibility.
An agency report quoting anonymous Indian army sources said that the army “retains the right to respond at a time and place of its choosing, in case the Pakistan army continues to assist terror activities across the border.”
The armed forces' last hit on terror launch pads was in February after the Jaish-e-Mohammed terror strike in Pulwama. On that occasion, the Air Force had targeted a Jaish camp in Pakistan's Balakot. In September 2016, the army had carried out surgical strikes on terror launch pads across the Line of Control.
Clarifying that today's attack cannot be equated with a surgical strike or a Balakot type strike as it was a step lower in the escalation matrix, sources said it was “significant escalation” that was meant to send out a “strong signal” to the Pakistan army.
By hitting the positions of Pakistani artillery positions, a “clear message was sent that their concealed positions are under observation and will be targeted if there is support to terror,” the sources were quoted saying in the agency report.
Sources were further quoted saying in the report, “Lately, the terror camps have been trying to push terrorists into Indian territory - part of Pakistan's plan to destabilise the situation in Jammu and Kashmir, following the Centre's move in August to end the state's special status and bifurcate it into two Union Territories. Most of these efforts have been foiled by the army which has not ruled out the possibility of a few slipping in.”
Pakistan has been making repeated attempts to flag Kashmir at international forums, but its efforts have not been successful so far.
Pak Drones
Through September, Pakistan drones have dropped weapons across Punjab. A report to the Home Ministry said intelligence officials detected as many as eight drone sorties. The possibility of undetected sorties has not been ruled out either.
On each sortie, the drones have dropped packages weighing up to 10 kg, which could have been arms, explosives, or means of communication, like cell phones or satellite phones, the report said. Intelligence agencies have also said Pakistan's state actors were responsible for this.
Till September this year, Pakistan had committed more than 2,050 unprovoked ceasefire violations in which 21 people died, the centre had said last month.
According to information from the Army, there were 2317 CFVs by Pakistan along the LoC this year till October 10 and 147 terrorists were killed in different operations on the Line of Control and hinterland.
India and Pakistan have a long history of bitter relations over Kashmir. The renewed fighting comes amid an ongoing lockdown in Kashmir that was put in place after India stripped the region of its semi-autonomy in early August.
REPORTS FROM SRINAGAR ADD:
Indian officials said, "Pak troops fired mortar shells and resorted to indiscriminate firing with automatic weapons from across the border in
Teetwal Tanghdar sector in Kupwara, targeting forward posts and civilians area at the line of control (LoC) late last night. Indian troops retaliated and the exchange of fire continued till 3.00 AM. Two soldiers were killed and four civilians, including a woman, were injured in the Pak shelling. The injured were rushed to hospital where one of them identified as Rafiq Ahmad succumbed,".
Over a dozen houses were also damaged in the shelling, they said, adding six animals also died after a shell fell on cowshed. A massive rescue operation was launched this morning to shift the residents.
Pak troops also fired mortars and resorted to firing in Hajipir sector in Uri in north Kashmir district of Baramulla, targeting civilian areas and forward posts. Indian troops returned the fire and hit Pak bunkers, they added.

 

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