After a lull of nearly seven months, the ceasefire on the Line of Control was violated again today with Pakistan army resorting to mortar shelling and firing in Poonch sector, a development that comes amid a fresh chill in relations between the two countries.
“The Pakistan army resorted to unprovoked ceasefire violation along the Line of Control (LoC) in the Poonch sector of J and K,” Defence spokesman Lt Col Manish Mehta said here.
He said the Pakistan army resorted to heavy mortar and automatic weapon fire in the Shahpur area of Poonch sector at 0430 hours.
“Our troops responded appropriately and no casualties or damage to our troops was reported,” the spokesman added.
The ceasefire violation comes after nearly seven months as last such incident took place on September 18, 2015 in the Balakote sector of Poonch district.
“Today’s ceasefire violation is the first major such incident of 2016,” a senior army officer said.
Last year, 16 civilians were killed and 71 others injured in 405 incidents of cross-border firing by Pakistan, the officer said.
While 253 incidents of ceasefire violations took place along the International Border (IB), 152 incidents were reported along the LoC, he said.
Around 8,000 people were temporarily affected due to the ceasefire violations and had to be shifted to safer locations.
Introducing a fresh chill in ties between the two neighbours, Pakistan had earlier this month said the bilateral peace process stands “suspended” while indicating that it would not allow Indian investigators looking into the Pathankot air force base attack to travel there.
Meanwhile, in Islamabad, Pakistan army accused India of resorting to firing across the LoC in the Neza Pir sector.
The Pakistan army said “heavy unprovoked firing and shelling” started at around 11:40 PM on Saturday and went on until about 4:45 AM.
It said that Pakistan Army troops provided a “befitting reponse” to the firing. No loss of life or property has been reported so far, according to Pakistan army.
The two countries had agreed to border ceasefire in 2003.