India strikes back, Pak claims 14 killed in shelling across LoC

CROSS-BORDER AG­GRES­SION Mil­i­tary of­fi­cials have un­sched­uled talk on Islamabad’s re­quest

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - HT Navi Mumbai Live - - FRONT PAGE - Im­tiaz Ah­mad and Ravi Kr­ish­nan Kha­juria letters@hin­dus­tan­times.com

In­dian troops on Wed­nes­day mounted a mas­sive bom­bard­ment of Pak­istani po­si­tions along the LoC a day after a sol­dier’s body was mu­ti­lated and two oth­ers were killed, with Pak­istani au­thor­i­ties say­ing 14 peo­ple died in the shelling.

The of­fen­sive came hours after the In­dian Army pledged to ex­act a “heavy” ret­ri­bu­tion for the killing of the three sol­diers. Ob­servers said the ex­change of fire was one of the heav­i­est since a cease­fire came into ef­fect along the Line of Con­trol in late 2003.

On Wed­nes­day evening, the Di­rec­tors Gen­eral of Mil­i­tary Op­er­a­tions of the two coun­tries held an “un­sched­uled hot­line in­ter­ac­tion” at Pak­istan’s re­quest to dis­cuss the sit­u­a­tion along the LoC. India’s DGMO Lt Gen Ran­bir Singh ex­pressed grief at Pak­istani civil­ian ca­su­al­ties but said In­dian troops were “only tar­get­ing lo­ca­tions from where Pak­istan has ini­ti­ated cease­fire vi­o­la­tions”.

Singh also raised in­fil­tra­tion at­tempts by ter­ror­ists and the “un­eth­i­cal act of mu­ti­la­tion of the body of In­dian sol­diers close to the LoC by ter­ror­ists in­fil­trat­ing from Pak­istan”, a state­ment said. He said nor­malcy would re­turn to the LoC if the Pak­istani side ex­er­cised “strict con­trol on their troops to re­frain from any ne­far­i­ous ac­tiv­i­ties”.

The ex­ter­nal af­fairs min­istry sum­moned Pak­istani deputy high com­mis­sioner Syed Haider Shah and protested against con­tin­ued cease­fire vi­o­la­tions and “bar­baric mu­ti­la­tion” of the In­dian sol­dier’s body, spokesper­son Vikas Swarup tweeted.

Shah, in turn, protested against the tar­get­ing of civil­ians in a pas­sen­ger bus and an am­bu­lance in the Neelum Val­ley, Pak­istani of­fi­cials said. Shah said this amounted to “a se­ri­ous es­ca­la­tion of the sit­u­a­tion”.

Pak­istani of­fi­cials said 10 civil­ians were killed when shelling hit the pas­sen­ger bus and am­bu­lance. The am­bu­lance had gone to evac­u­ate peo­ple who were in­jured when the bus was hit.

“A mo­tor­cy­clist also died after be­ing hit by a mor­tal shell in the same area.

The Pak­istani mil­i­tary’s me­dia arm also said three sol­diers, in­clud­ing a cap­tain, were killed “while re­spond­ing to In­dian un­pro­voked fir­ing”. Border Se­cu­rity Force (BSF) sol­diers head for night pa­trol duty along the India-Pak­istan in­ter­na­tional border in Jammu.

AP PHOTO *TILL OC­TO­BER 31

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