Heavy shelling in Nowshera, 10 Pak soldiers killed; 6 bunkers destroyed
19 December 2001
The Daily Excelsior
JAMMU: At least half a dozen enemy bunkers were destroyed in a retaliatory action by Indian troops in Jhangar area of Nowshera on the Line of Control, leaving at least ten Pak soldiers dead and several injured while tension has mounted all along the International Border (IB) and the LOC in the region following massive deployment of Pak Army closer to the borders. A Defence spokesman said that Pakistani troops resorted to unprovoked shelling in the forward areas of Kalsian, Numb, Sher Makri, Jhangar, Khori Baba hill and adjoining areas during last late last evening. The Indian troops who are already on the high alert, responded immediately and the exchange of fire continued till morning today. At least ten Pak soldiers have been killed and half a dozen enemy bunkers have been destroyed in the retaliatory action by our troops. He maintained that no casualty has been reported on Indian side since last evening but an army porter sustained minor injuries. At least 200 more morter shells were fired by Pakistani soldiers from 10.15 hrs to 12.30 hrs today. The reports said that during the exchange of fire, some scared villagers moved to the safer places following heavy shelling from Pakistani side. The Police authorities have, however, denied the migration of border villagers while the unofficial sources maintainmed that in view of the mounting tension, the intensity of firing people from certain vulnerable pockets have moved to the safer zones. He said the intensity of firing has also increased all along the International Border in Kanha Chak, R S Pura, Samba, Hiranagar and Kathua border belts in past 48 hours. The visible movement of the Pak Army tanks, Armoured vehicles and troops has been observed from this side of the border from certain forward observatory points. The reports of shelling have also been received from Poonch and Mendhar area where no loss of life on the either side has been reported. A senior Army officer in the Northern Command headquarters, quoting intelligence agencies operating on the either side, disclosed that massive Pak Army build-up along the border has been observed in past three days in this sector. The movement of heavy and medium machine guns, tanks, armoured cars, troops and other weaponry has been noticed closer to the borders in Pathankot, Samba, Chhakergarh, R S Pura, Chicken Neck, Nikki Tawi and Chhamb areas. He said the inputs from the other side of the border have indicated that Pakistan Army has moved its 10 Corps and 30 Corps to the striking zones with the Indian border. In the hilly terrain of Rajouri and Poonch, the civilians residing closer to that side of the LOC, particularly in Nikyal, Janggar, Lam, Balakot and Sawjian areas have been instructed to move to the safer places. The reports also indicated that scared border villagers in view of the emerging situation have started sending their children and women to the safer places. Responding to a question, the officer said that Pakistan has even continued its build-up in certain areas after the completion of their winter exercise few days ago. During that exercise, even in some pockets, the Pak army continued to be retained, which included—Sialkot, Amru Chak, Gujranwalla, Jalalpur, Chhamb and Mirpur. It is not out of place to mention here that Pak authorities have already cancelled the leaves of its troops and started their deployment in the forward areas. Another senior officer from 16 Corps when contacted said that visible Pak army movement along with tanks has been noticed from several points in Chicken Neck, Nikki Tawi, Chinab, Ravi and Basantar riverine areas in past 48 hours. '' Our troops are also on the maximum alert and prepared for any action ,'' he added. The officer further claimed that civilians residing closer to the border on this side have not been disturbed so far. They are still at their respective places and carrying out their routine work. If required, they will be asked to move to the safer places but the time has not come as yet. Inspector General BSF Jammu Frontier Mr Vijay Raman said, '' nothing is normal on that side of the border as we are observing for the past few days. Things seems to be normal on our side but massive army build up is there opposite Jammu sector of Pak area and something is surely getting cooked up there as per our observations. The BSF is there as it was earlier and carrying out its job effectively but we can not say whether Rangers are still there at their BOPs or replaced by Pak troops. The forces on our side are quite vigilant and keeping a close eye on all the activities on the other side, '' he maintained.