Pak Army again resorts to heavy shelling in Samba
17 March 2002
The Daily Excelsior
Jammu: After more than two months lull, Pakistan army again started heavy mortar shelling and artillery firing in Samba sector early today wounding two security personnel, killing eight cattle and causing extensive damage to several houses, which had already been abandoned by the people. Mortar shelling coupled with artillery firing started from Pakistan side at 0615 hours today targeting Ben, Galar and four other surrounding villages on the International Border in Samba sector. Shelling was intense and continued uninterruptedly till 0800 hours, official sources said. Several shells landed in the abandoned houses in Galar village, damaging them. People in Galar and Ben villages, located within one kilometer from the international boundary, had deserted their houses ending December last year following mortar shelling by Pakistan army. This was, however, for the first time after mid-January that Pakistan army resorted to indiscriminate shelling on the border villages. During last couple of months, troops from both the sides had been exchanging small arms firing. According to sources, firing and shelling were effectively replied by the Indian side, resulting into some casualties of the enemy but their exact number couldn’t be ascertained. After 1100 hours, only small arms firing was exchanged by both the sides. Sources said one army soldier and a BSF jawan were injured in the shelling. Two army bunkers and three vehicles were also damaged on the Indian side. A total of eight cattle, which had been left by the people in the village while migrating to the safer areas, perished in the firing while about a dozen others were injured. Several houses were damaged in the shelling. However, no civilian casualties were reported as entire population of both Ben and Galar villages had already migrated to Samba town about two and a half month back and were still putting up there. Injured security personnel have been hospitalised. Sources said the shelling and firing from the Pakistan side was totally unprovoked and was aimed at disturbing peace on the International Border as well, which had been witnessing only small arms firing. Shelling had also marred the attempts by some of the people to return to their houses in Ben, the sources said, adding ‘today’s shelling had intensified the fear psychosis among the border migrants that they might not be able to return to their houses in the near future’. Sources said some bunkers of the enemy troops were damaged in retaliatory firing by the Indian side. Exact number of casualties suffered by Pakistan army, however, couldn’t be ascertained from this side. Hiranagar sector in Kathua district was also activated by Pakistan army with heavy firing, albeit restricting it to the small arms. Firing was replied by the Indian side. No casualties or damage was reported on either side in Hiranagar sector, the sources said.