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Seven killed as Pakistan shells civilian areas in J&K

By The Assam Tribune

Jammu, Nov 1 (IANS): Seven civilians, among them five women, were killed and 15 others were injured on Tuesday as Pakistan troopers bombarded several areas of Jammu and Kashmir with heavy mortar shells, triggering mass migration from dozens of frontier villages near here, officials said.

The officials said five civilians were killed in Ramgarh of the frontier district of Samba on the International Border and two others lost their lives in Rajouri on the Line of Control -- the de facto border that divides Jammu and Kashmir between India and Pakistan.

A police spokesperson said the dead in the Ramgarh sector included a girl, 16, and two other women. A total of 15 more civilians were injured in the shelling from across the border.

"All the injured civilians have been shifted to hospital," the spokesperson said. At least two dozen head of cattle have also perished.

The police official said Pakistan Rangers indiscriminately targeted civilian areas and defence facilities in Ramgarh since morning. "The BSF is retaliating effectively and heavy shelling and firing exchanges are going on."

The spokesperson said hundreds of residents were forced to abandon their homes near the border in the Samba district. They used every mode of conveyance, even walked barefoot, to escape from the line of fire.

The border residents were also worried about their harvest-ready crops. Authorities have set up temporary accommodations -- in educational institutions, rural development department buildings and community halls -- for hundreds of border residents in Jammu, Samba and Kathua districts.

On the LoC in Noushera sector of Rajouri, the Pakistan Army shelled various Indian positions. Many shells landed in villages, killing at least two women, defence sources said.

India accuses Pakistan of regularly violating the 2003 ceasefire agreement signed to maintain peace at borders and along the Line of Control (LoC). Pakistan blames India for provoking the border tension.

Border skirmishes intensified after Pakistani militants attacked a military base in Jammu and Kashmir's Uri, killing 19 Indian soldiers on September 18.

The Uri attack prompted the Indian Army to carry out a surgical strike that destroyed seven terror launch pads and killed an unknown number of terrorists and their sympathisers in Pakistan-administered Kashmir, across the LoC.

India shares 230 km of International Border and 740 km of LoC with Pakistan in Jammu and Kashmir. The boundary, manned by the paramilitary BSF runs through Jammu, Samba and Kathua districts, and the LoC, which is not an internationally-accepted frontier, cuts across other regions of the state.

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