Teenage boy killed, sister critically injured in 'unprovoked' Indian firing from across Line of Control

A teenage boy was killed and his younger sibling critically injured in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) after Indian troops resorted to “unprovoked” firing from across the restive Line of Control (LoC), officials said.

The casualties, according to Zubair Gillani, a police official in Forward Kahuta, occurred in Akhori village situated in closest proximity of the LoC in Nezapir sector of Haveli district.

The police official identified the deceased as 15-years-old Tahir and the injured as 12-year-old Tahira, both children of Muhammad Hafeez.

According to Muhammad Zaheer, district disaster management officer in Haveli, Indian troops resorted to ceasefire violations at about 7am “without any provocation”.

The firing, during which they mostly used small arms and mortar shells, continued till 10:30am, he added.

The victims were standing along the boundary wall of their house when a mortar shell landed in their courtyard, Zaheer said.

The boy was hit by shrapnel on his chest and died on the spot, while the girl was critically injured after a splinter passed through her head causing her a brain injury, he added.

Zaheer said that the injured girl was initially brought to a military-run health facility in district headquarters Forward Kahuta, from where she was referred to Shaikh Khalifa bin Zayed al Nahayan Hospital Rawalakot in the neighbouring Poonch district.

An army doctor accompanied her to Rawalakot owing to her critical condition. Given the length of the journey, they had not reached Rawalakot till the filing of this report.

Doctors were sceptical about her survival, Zaheer said.

AJK Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider, following the incident, grieved the loss of Kashmiri lives at the hands of “Indian troops on both sides” of the divide.

“Kashmiris [are] being killed by Indian army on both sides of [the] LoC. Is this the fate of Kashmiris,” he tweeted.

Though ceasefire violations at the heavily militarised LoC have been a frequent occurrence, tensions have been especially high in the region following an attack on an Indian army convoy in Pulwama area of Indian occupied Kashmir in February this year.

According to Syed Shahid Mohyiddin Qadri, chief of the State Disaster Management Authority, the latest casualties have pushed the 2019 death toll due to ceasefire violations by Indian army to 14. Meanwhile, the number of injured civilians has reached 81.

Apart from civilian casualties, five army personnel have also lost their lives in the line of duty along the LoC in the ongoing year, he said.

Qadri further said that at least 20 cattle had also perished, whereas 198 houses, one mosque, two school buildings, three cattle sheds and five vehicles were partially damaged and 14 houses and two shops completely damaged in different areas of AJK due to Indian shelling.