Pak Army Violates Ceasefire On LoC
18 January 2005
The Daily Excelsior
Jammu: In the first violation of over 13-month-old ceasefire along the Line of Control, Pakistani forces tonight fired 16 mortar shells on Indian positions in Poonch sector wounding a girl. One of the shells landed on a house of one Amarnath at Azad Mohallah in Poonch town at around 2030 hours injuring his daughter Abiluchi, official source said. Brig Dhruv Katock of 16 Corps Headquarter said that 15 shells fell on in northern part of Poonch sector between 1930 hours and 2000 hours. Army spokesman Maj Gen Deepak Samanawar said in New Delhi that the mortar shells were fired in Poonch sector between 1830 hours and 2000 hours but there was no retaliation from the Indian side. Replying to a question, Samanawar said 'yes it's certainly a violation of the ceasefire. It is the first time it has happened. But we are exercising full restraint on this.' 'We are trying to assess the situation. All our patrols and ambushes have been alerted,' he said. Asked about the reason behind the firing from across the LoC, he said 'we are yet to carry out an assessment why this has happened.' Brig Katock said 'at present we will not like to accuse the Pakistan Army (of firing) as we have to investigate first whether militants have fired from across the LoC.' 'We do not think that Pakistan army would like to break the Indo-Pak ceasefire which is completely holding on our side,' Brig Katock said. He said firing of mortar shells could be to provide cover to infiltrating militants as five of them were killed in Poonch sector today. The ceasefire along the LoC went into force on Novermber 26, 2003. Mortar shelling by Pakistan Army came just few hours after BSF and Army thwarted an infiltration attempt by the militants in Balnoi area of Mendhar sector in Poonch district killing five militants while four others escaped back. A mortar shell was first fired by Pakistan Army at Langoor post of the Army, about three kms from Poonch town at 1830 hours. The shell exploded but didn't cause any damage. Between 1930 to 2000 hours, 13 mortar shells were fired by Pakistan Army in Kalas village, about six kms from Poonch town. The shells landed behind the battalion headquarters of 2 JAK Li. All shells exploded without causing any casualties or damage. SSP Poonch Mukesh Singh rushed to the spot where the shell landed in a house. The injured girl was shifted to the district hospital. Earlier in the day, the BSF foiled an infiltration attempt on Line of Control (LoC) in forward area of Balnoi in Mendhar sector killing five hardcore militants in wee hours of this morning. Four militants managed to escape back to Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK). A large quantity of arms and ammunition were recovered from the scene of encounter. In another incident, the militants triggered an IED blast under an Army jonga at Jugaal, Mendhar killing an Army jawan and wounding two others. Official sources said the jawans of 153 BSF observed movement of a group of nine infiltrators trying to sneak into the Indian territory from Balnoi area in Mendhar sector of this district around 1 am today. The militants were yet to reach the fencing area when they were spotted by the security personnel, manning the border. Security forces immediately lit up the entire area and challenged the militants. Troops of 10 Sikh Li, falling under the jurisdiction of Krishna Ghati Garrison also swung into action and joined the operation. A heavy exchange of gun-fighting continued between the militants and the security personnel till 8 am today. After the encounter was over, the security forces recovered bodies of five militants. Four other militants had reportedly managed to escape back to PoK taking cover of darkness and a hostile weather, the sources said. BSF or Army didn't suffer any casualties in the operation that lasted seven hours. Recoveries made from the scene of encounter include five AK-56 rifles, one sniper rifle, 20 AK magazines, 31 sniper rounds, one wireless set, 1000 AK rounds, six hand gloves, 25 hand grenades, 20 detonators, one Under Barrel Grenade Launcher (UBGL) with 14 grenades, 10 anti-personnel mines, 17 packets of PEK explosives and a large quantity of eatables and a medicines kit. Bodies of all slain militants have been recovered from the scene of encounter but their identity hasn't been established so far. They were believed to be the activists of Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT), the sources said. This was the first major infiltration attempt foiled by security forces in Poonch sector this year. A diary recovered from one of the militants carried his identity as Abu Suleman 'Sulfi' of Shopian. Meanwhile, an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) planted by the militants exploded under an Army jonga at village Jugaal in Mendhar sector at 11 am today. An Army jawan Khetpal Singh was killed and two others were injured in the explosion. Injured Army jawans have been shifted to a Military Hospital. The Army jonga was extensively damaged under the impact of powerful blast. Soon after the explosion, troops cordoned off the area and launched a search operation for the militants involved in detonating the IED. However, no arrest was made from the spot. Security forces destroyed a hideout of the militants at Morha Taral in Chingus area of Keri sector in Rajouri district today. Recoveries made from the hideout include 540 UMG rounds, 420 sniper rounds, 770 AK rounds, five RPG shells, four UBGL grenades, three AK magazines, two bundles cortex, five anti-personnel mines, four hand grenades and a large quantity of material used in fabricating IEDs.