Five security personnel killed in encounter in Kupwara, heavy shelling by Pakistan along LoC in JK


File Photo of security forces in Kashmir.

File Photo of security forces in Kashmir.

Five security personnel including a CRPF officer were killed on Friday in an encounter with militants while a civilian died in clashes near the site in Kupwara in Jammu and Kashmir, where areas along the LoC in Rajouri and Poonch districts were heavily shelled by Pakistan for the eighth consecutive day.

The fresh violence came amid heightened Indo-Pak tensions in the aftermath of Pulwama terror attack, the subsequent anti-terror operation by India and Pakistan Air Force’s attempt to target Indian military installations in Jammu and Kashmir.

The encounter broke out Friday morning after the militants opened fire on the security forces during a cordon and search operation in Babagund area of Kupwara following information about the presence of ultras there, officials said.

There was a lull in firing several times during the day but militants would resume firing as soon as the security forces advanced towards the house where the ultras were hiding, the officials said. After one such interval, the militants opened indiscriminate firing on the advancing team of security personnel, the officials said.

Nine security force personnel were injured in the firing by the militants, they said adding five of them succumbed to injuries. The slain personnel included a CRPF inspector and a jawan, two army men and a policeman, they said.

Clashes between a group of youngsters and security personnel took place near the encounter site, the officials said

A youth, identified as Waseem Ahmad Mir, suffered severe injuries and was rushed to a hospital where the doctors declared him ‘brought dead’, they said.

They said the operation was in progress when reports last came in.

Meanwhile, Pakistan on Friday violated the ceasefire again by shelling four sectors along the Line of Control (LoC) in Rajouri and Poonch districts leaving a woman injured.

Officials said Pakistan troops used heavy guns including Howitzer 105 mm to target civilian areas in Poonch.

“At about 1800 hours, Pakistan continued initiating unprovoked ceasefire violation by heavy shelling with mortars and firing of small arms along LoC in Mendhar, Balakote and Krishna Ghati Sectors,” the defence public relations officer said.

Indian Army retaliated strongly and effectively, he said.

“Earlier, Pakistani troops resorted to firing and mortar shelling along the LOC in Krishnagati sector and it ended around 0130 hour,” the PRO said.

The firing and mortar shelling continued overnight in several sectors of Poonch and Rajouri districts, the official said adding the Indian Army retaliated strongly and effectively.

A woman identified as Naseem Akhtar was injured in the firing in Mankote area of Poonch, officials said.

“About 1615 hours Friday, Pakistan initiated unprovoked ceasefire violation by shelling with mortars and firing of small arms along LoC in Nowshera sector,” the officer said.

On Thursday, a woman was killed and a jawan was injured when Pakistani Army heavily shelled civilian areas and forward posts in six sectors along the LoC in Jammu and Kashmir’s Poonch and Rajouri districts, drawing retaliation from the Indian Army.

The Pakistan Army has during the last one week violated the ceasefire over 60 times targeting over 70 civilian and forward areas along the LoC in Poonch, Rajouri, Jammu and Baramulla districts of Jammu and Kashmir, in which one woman was killed and nine persons were injured.

In view of the prevailing situation, authorities have ordered temporary closure of educational institutions in a 5-km radius along the LoC in Rajouri and Poonch districts.

They have asked all border dwellers to remain inside their homes. Amid high tension along the LoC, Northern Army Commander Lt Gen Ranbir Singh accompanied by the White Knight Corps Commander, Lt Gen Paramjit Singh visited forward posts in Rajouri Sector to review the operational preparedness on Thursday.

The year 2018 had witnessed the highest number of ceasefire violation, numbering 2,936 by Pakistani troops, in the last 15 years.

Pakistan continues to violate the 2003 ceasefire agreement with India despite repeated calls for restraint and adherence to the pact during flag meetings between the two sides.