Indian artillery and mortar guns continued to pound civilian population in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) on Saturday, leaving at least two civilians dead and another five wounded, according to Waleed Anwar, assistant commissioner of Nakyal.
Casualties occurred in different villages of Nakyal sector in Kotli district, which were targeted by Indian troops from across the restive Line of Control (LoC) throughout the preceding night and during the day, said the assistant commissioner.
The area received shelling for most part of the night, but it was most “intense and indiscriminate” from 11:30am to 1:30pm, he said.
Anwar said one man was wounded past midnight, while a man and a woman were killed and four others were injured during the day.
“The shelling is continuing at the moment, though intermittently,” he added.
Due to the diminution in severity of shelling, he said, people had started evacuating the victims to the nearest health facilities.
“I have been told that three of the injured persons are critical and being transferred to the District Headquarters (DHQ) Hospital, [Kotli],” Anwar said.
He feared that the number of casualties could increase as reports from many highly vulnerable areas were yet to be collected.
Meanwhile, Associated Press reported that Indian police claimed two civilians and a soldier were killed by Pakistani shelling across the LoC.
Earlier on Friday, a man was killed and a minor girl wounded in AJK’s Bhimber district along the LoC.
The heavily militarised LoC as well as Working Boundary have been witnessing frequent skirmishes and artillery duels, in a serious breach of a ceasefire agreement signed by both armies in November 2003.
Tensions particularly mounted after an attack on an Indian army installation in Uri in September 2016 by suspected militants, in which 18 Indian soldiers were killed.
Following the attack, India had claimed to have conducted cross-border “surgical strike” against the “launch-pads of terror” in AJK, in a bid to appease public sentiment.
Pakistan had, however, strongly rejected the claim.
Ever since, several casualties, mostly of civilians, have occurred in cross-border shelling.
According to Foreign Office, Indian forces committed more than 1,900 ceasefire violations along the LoC and Working Boundary in 2017 and over 75 in the first 20 days of 2018.
The leadership of Pakistan Rangers and India’s Border Security Forces had agreed at a conference in New Delhi in November last year that the “spirit” of the 2003 truce accord must be revived to protect innocent lives.