November 2016 News

Army Hits Back With Full Force All Along LoC; 15 Pakistanis Killed; Many Injured

23 November 2016
The Daily Excelsior
Sanjeev Pargal and Fayaz Bukhari

Jammu: Fifteen Pakistanis including six of their Army personnel were killed and scores of others injured as Indian troops hit back with full force on Pakistan army along Line of Control (LoC) at different places in Jammu and Kashmir following killing of three Army soldiers at Macchil sector yesterday, the body of one of whom was mutilated. Eleven persons including six Army personnel, four BSF jawans and a civilian porter working with Army were injured in Pakistan shelling and firing in Nowshera, Manjakote, Balakote, Mendhar and Gurez sectors during the day today while some cattle perished or were injured. A number of houses were also damaged. With massive counter offensive undertaken against Pakistan army today by the Indian side, Pakistan Director General of Military Operations (DGMO) Lt Gen Sahir Shamshad Mirza spoke to his Indian counterpart Lt Gen Ranbir Singh on hotline this afternoon and requested for DGMO level talks between the two countries to de-escalate tensions on the LoC. Official sources told the Excelsior that a very strong message has gone to Pakistan today following full force attack on their army after the killing of three Indian soldiers in Macchil, which prompted them to seek DGMO level talks and an end to LoC tensions. India will respond to the talks shortly, they said. The massive fire assault on Pakistani troops was launched this morning and continued till 6 pm in Nowshera, Sunderbani, Mendhar, Balakote, Tarkundi, Balnoi, Sona Gali, Panjni Nullah and Manjakote in twin border districts of Rajouri and Poonch in Jammu region and Macchil, Gurez and Keran in the Kashmir valley. As tensions escalated on the borders in several parts of Jammu and Kashmir Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh chaired a high level meeting of top brass including National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval, Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi, RAW chief Rajinder Khanna and Director Intelligence Bureau Dineshwar Sharma among others and had detailed review of the situation prevailing on the borders in J&K. After the meeting, Rajnath announced that Army has been given free hand to hit with full force to counter evil designs of Pakistani troops on the borders. Sources said the Home Minister has been briefed that Army was in full command of the situation along the LoC and that it has given 'very very strong and effective' reply to Pakistan by eliminating the enemy troops and decimating their posts, which were targeting civilian areas on this side. 'Have faith in the Army,' Rajnath said after the meeting. Prior to the high level meeting of MHA, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar briefed. Six persons including four security force personnel were injured and over 17 structures were damaged along Line of Control (LoC) as Pakistani troops targeted forward posts in North Kashmir today while 12 Pakistanis including 3 soldiers were killed as Army gave befitting reply to yesterday's killing of three soldiers in Macchil sector. Two Army personnel, two Border Security Force (BSF) personnel and two civilians were injured in Pakistani shelling in Keran sector today. Reports said that the Army gave befitting reply to yesterday's killing of three soldiers and mutilation of one body in Macchil sector and it led to heavy firing along the LoC in Keran, Macchil and Gurez. The heavy mortar shelling is going on in these sectors since last evening. In Gurez along the LoC, heavy shelling was reported in which 15 houses, 2 Masjids and one Middle School building was damaged in Pakistani shelling. In Pakistan occupied Kashmir, a shell fired by Army hit a bus, killing at least nine people, with three Pakistani soldiers killed when shell landed on their bunker today. The shell hit a bus at Lawat in the upper belt of the Neelum Valley killing 9 passengers and injuring 11 others. Three Pakistani soldiers including an officer were also killed at the Line of Control. They have been identified as Captain Taimoor Ali Khan, Havaldar Mushtaq Hussain and Lance Naik Ghulam Hussain. Official sources told the Excelsior that troops carried out major counter assault on Pakistani troops from Balnoi sector of Poonch district to silence Pakistani guns in Tata Pani this afternoon. In major offensive, troops decimated two Pakistani posts named Khyber and Tang in which three Pakistan army personnel, who were manning these posts, were killed and five others seriously injured. 'Both Pakistani posts of Khyber and Tang have been reduced to ashes,' sources said, adding that these posts were engaged in targeting forward posts of the Indian Army and civilian areas and, therefore, counter action was necessitated against them. Pakistan army started heavy shelling in Nowshera, Sunderbani, Manjakote, Mendhar, Balakote and Tarkundi sectors of Poonch and Rajouri. Four BSF jawans were injured in Manjakote-Balakote sectors while three Army men were injured in Nowshera sector. A civilian porter engaged with the Army was injured in Manjakote in Pakistan shelling today. They have been identified as Subedar Satwinder Singh, Naik Baldev Ram and GNR Sarabjit Singh, all from Army, Abdul Majeed son of Mohammad Shaffi R-o Chiti Bakri, a civilian porter at Naika Panjgrain in Manjakote, Head Constable Manjeet Singh, Head Constable Mohammad Sabir, Rajesh Kumar Kothari, constable and Sault Tiwari, cook, all from the BSF. They were responding to the treatment and their injuries were stated to be minor. A number of houses were damaged in the shelling as Pakistani troops directly targeted civilian areas on the LoC in Nowshera, Manjakote and Balakote sectors on the LoC while some cattle perished and few others were injured. A mortar shell exploded close to Government High School Khori Nar in Manjakote sector of Rajouri district this afternoon but fortunately the school was closed. A major catastrophe was averted due to closure of school, sources said. They added that authorities have closed down all Government and private schools falling within shelling and firing range in Poonch and Rajouri districts. The exams in these schools have also been postponed till further orders, sources said, adding the authorities were reviewing situation on daily basis and would take further decision on opening of the schools after de-escalation of tension. Sources said the shelling at all places on the LoC in Rajouri and Poonch districts stopped at 6 pm. Thereafter, intermittent exchange of firing continued at some places. Almost entire population living on the LoC in Rajouri and Poonch districts remained confined to their houses and bunkers right from 9 am when heavy shelling started from Pakistan side. The Indian side today struck back with very heavy force to give effective and strong reply to Pakistan, which forced their Army to immediately call for the DGMO level talks to de-escalate tensions. Meanwhile, in the aftermath of Indian Army's 'punitive fire assaults', DGMOs of India and Pakistan spoke today at the latter's request for an 'unscheduled hotline interaction' during which the 'unethical' act of mutilation of bodies of Indian soldiers by 'terrorists' was raised. 'He (Pakistani Director General of Military Operations) was categorically informed that if any ceasefire violations were initiated by Pak troops or any infiltration attempt was made by terrorists from Pakistan occupied Kashmir or territory under its control, it would invite an appropriate response by Indian Army,' a statement issued by the Indian DGMO's office said. Indian DGMO Lt Gen Ranbir Singh raised the issue of infiltration attempts by terrorists from Pakistan into Jammu and Kashmir and 'unethical act of mutilation of the body of Indian soldiers close to the Line of Control by terrorists infiltrating from Pakistan'. Pakistan's DGMO was exhorted to exercise strict control on their troops to refrain from any 'nefarious activities', it said. 'This would lead to return of normalcy along the Line of Control,' the statement headlined 'Aftermath of Indian Army's punitive fire assault: Pak DGMO requests for unscheduled talks on hotline', he added. Pakistan's DGMO informed about civilian casualties on his side caused by Indian firing at the Line of Control. Lt Gen Singh expressed grief at civilian casualties but 'emphatically stated that retaliatory firing by Indian troops has only been carried out targeting locations from where Pakistan has initiated ceasefire violations on Indian Posts'. Lt Gen Singh expressed his concern to Pakistani DGMO about casualties caused to Indian civilians and soldiers due to 'unprovoked' Pakistani firing. PTI adds: Reacting sharply to firing by Pakistani troops, India today summoned its Deputy High Commissioner here and lodged strong protest over ceasefire violations causing deaths of Indian soldiers and barbaric mutilation of their bodies. Pakistan Deputy High Commissioner Syed Haider Shah was summoned by Joint Secretary (in-charge of Pakistan) in the Ministry of External Affairs Gopal Baglay, who conveyed India's strong reaction to continued ceasefire violations and mutilation of bodies of its soldiers. On his part, Shah too protested 'the recent spate of unprovoked Indian firing and shelling' which, he claimed, had so far resulted in the loss of more than 50 civilians lives including women, infants and the elderly, besides several Pakistani soldiers. Yesterday, India's Deputy High Commission in Islamabad J P Singh had protested to Pakistan against the killing of Indian soldiers and mutilation of the body of one of them when he was summoned by the Pakistani Foreign Office in Islamabad which wanted to lodge a protest over 'unprovoked ceasefire violations'.