Pak Pounds Civilian Areas On LoC With Mortars, Bullets

12 August 2015
The Daily Excelsior

Jammu: Pakistan army today intensified mortar shelling and heavy firing in Sabzian and Balakote sectors of Poonch district by once again firing 120 mm and 82 mm mortar shells and using heavy firearms to target civilian population and forward Army posts, forcing people in Sabzian to take shelter at safer places behind the mountains to save their lives. Official sources told the Excelsior that mortars and bullets from automatic weapons continued to rain in civilian and surrounding areas of Sabzian and Balakote sectors of Poonch district throughout the last night. After brief lull of few hours in the morning, Pakistan resumed shelling at Sabzian during the day. Intermittent shelling and firing was going on when the reports last came in. The Indian side was retaliating effectively. Heavy exchange of shelling and firing continued in Sabzian through the last night and during the day after 10.15 am without any break. 'The shelling was on when the reports last came in,' sources said. The panic-stricken people, who were living amidst regular shelling and firing in forward villages of Sabzian for over a week now, left their houses for safer areas after Pakistan started pounding civilian areas directly with high intensity 120 mm mortar shells apart from 82 mm shells, Rocket Projectile Gun (RPG) shells and Pika gun fire. 'While some people have left for the houses of their relatives, others have taken shelter behind the mountains to survive. Few others have moved to Government buildings to spend night,' sources said, adding over 25 families have also shifted to safer areas from forward villages of Chaprian and Gagrian. During last night also, Pakistan Army resorted to heavy shelling and firing in entire Balakote and Sabzian sectors, sending wave of panic among the border dwellers. However, there were no casualties or damage in fresh shelling by the Pakistan army-either on the Army side or the civilians. Sources said two mortar shells fell inside Sabzian Bus Stand this afternoon and exploded with bangs but there were no casualties as the Bus Stand was deserted in view of shelling. According to sources, Pakistan was trying to inflict casualties on civilians but has failed so far. Pakistan was reported to have suffered heavy losses in retaliatory firing by the Army and it was in view of this context that it was trying to cause damage on the Indian side. Meanwhile, in the wake of Centre Government's clearance to raise 180 bunkers along International Border across Jammu, Inspector General BSF, Jammu Frontier Rakesh Sharma today termed it as welcome step asserting that it will benefit the civilians in the bordering hamlets. 'It is a good step that the Parliament has approved our proposal of raising 180 bunkers along IB in Jammu,' Mr Sharma told reporters this morning at the sidelines of plantation drive function to register BSF into Limca Book of Records at Headquarters, Paloura. The IG said, 'raising of bunkers will help in shielding civilians living in border villages during cross border firing like incidents,' adding that once the State Government gives nod, the work will start. On security scenario ahead of Independence Day, the officer said, 'we are on alert and any attempt of infiltration from across the border will be foiled.' 'Apart from this if Pakistan violates ceasefire, BSF will give befitting reply to it,' he added. Sharma further said there is sufficient deployment of BSF personnel along the border to face any challenge and in assistance with other agencies and forces, tight security has been put in place. On movement of anti-national elements across the fence, the IG said, 'so far no such movement has been seen but if any element try to infiltrate to this side, he will be neutralised.' The top BSF officer however, claimed that the border is peaceful except Akhnoor Sector where tension prevails but vigil is being maintained and troops are keeping hawk's eye so that no unwanted movement is allowed close to the border and also keeping watch on every activity across the border for peaceful celebrations of Independence Day in the region.