Three soldiers martyred in unprovoked firing across LoC Rakhchikri Sector by Indian forces

Three Pakistan Army soldiers have been martyred due to unprovoked firing by the Indian army across the restive Line of Control (LoC) at Rakhchikri Sector in Rawalkot, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) reported.

Subedar Mohammad Riaz from Jhang, Lance Havaldar Aziz Ullah from Noshero Feroz, and Sepoy Shahid Mansib from Abbottabad embraced martyrdom while one soldier got injured, said the military’s media wing.

The ISPR said that the Army responded to Indian firing in a befitting manner, adding there were reports of casualties on Indian side of the LoC.

A day earlier, an elderly villager was killed while two women and three young boys were injured in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) in unrelenting ceasefire violations by Indian troops across the LoC.

According to police, Indian troops had resorted to shelling in Nezapir sector at about 7am, using small and heavy weapons. The shelling was largely restricted to military posts on opposite sides “but occasionally the Indian army would also pound civilian settlements”, a police official had said.

Another official in Kotli district had told media that Goi and Tattapani sectors had been experiencing heavy shelling since Sunday night. A 28-year-old woman was injured in Goi Batali village after shrapnel from a shell hit her.

The Battal sector in the neighbouring Poonch district also witnessed heavy shelling, but no casualties were reported from there.

High tensions

The heavily militarised LoC was relatively calm over the past one week as the last casualties were reported on March 24 from Bhimber and Haveli districts where a 10-year-old boy and a man were injured, respectively.

Tensions have been running high between India and Pakistan in the wake of a suicide attack on an Indian military convoy in Pulwama district of Indian-occupied Kashmir on February 14, which killed more than 40 paramilitary troops.

In what was the most serious military crisis in South Asia since 2008, Indian and Pakistani warplanes engaged in a dogfight on Feb 27, a day after a raid by Indian jet fighters on what New Delhi said was a militant camp in Pakistan. Islamabad denied any militant camp exists in the area and said the Indian bombs exploded on an empty hillside.

Pakistan downed an Indian plane for violating its airspace and captured its pilot after he ejected in AJK.

The tensions de-escalated after Prime Minister Imran Khan decided to release the Indian pilot as a peace gesture, and following concerted diplomatic efforts by countries including the United States, China and the UAE.

Nevertheless, ceasefire violations along the de-factor border have been occurring regularly.