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Fresh cross-border firing heats up India, Pakistan tension

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Jammu: Fresh firing across the de facto border between India and Pakistan on Tuesday intensified military tension between the already tense neighbours with Indian Air Force chief Arup Raha warning that the situation on the Line of Control (LOC) was still “live”.

The Indian Army alleged that Pakistan troops opened unprovoked heavy firing in at least three places on the LoC — a ceasefire line that divides Jammu and Kashmir between the two countries. Cross-border shelling also occurred along the International Border at Akhnoor sector in Jammu.

No injuries were reported from the Pakistan mortar shelling at Indian border posts in Jhangar, Kalsian and Makri areas of Nowshera sector in Rajouri district. The heavy exchange of fire continued for several hours and was continuing till Tuesday evening.

A police officer said many shells landed near civilian areas in Nowshera, a border area located on the banks of Manawer river, some 125 km from here.

The officer said the Indian Army retaliated and fired at Pakistani posts. Any damage on the other side of the ceasefire line was not known immediately.

Across the LoC, the Pakistan Army made similar allegations, saying Indian troops “resorted to unprovoked firing” at 4 a.m. on Tuesday.

“Pakistani troops befittingly responded to the unprovoked Indian firing… in Bhimber sector,” an Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) statement said.

As the border tension intensified, Arup Raha, chief of the Indian Air Force, said “things are still live” at the frontier.

“It would not be right for me to give a perspective now,” Raha told reporters in New Delhi, refusing to take any questions on India’s cross-border surgical strikes late last month targeting militant launch pads in Pakistan-held Kashmir.

Raha said the Indian Air Force had “evolved” and was prepared to face a two-front war, in case it broke out simultaneously with China and Pakistan.

“We are always ready and we will be ready… The IAF has the capability to be deployed for offensive operations. Today, the IAF has the strategic reach and can deter a conflict,” he said.

India said its Special Forces destroyed at least seven terror launch pads and killed an unknown number of militants and their sympathisers in the September 29 cross-border raids.

The surgical strikes were launched to avenge the killings of 19 Indian soldiers in the September 18 terror attack at an Indian military base in Uri town in Kashmir’s Baramulla district.

India said the four attackers, who sneaked into the Uri camp and were killed in a gunfight, infiltrated from Pakistan. Islamabad denied the allegation.

The heavy exchange of fire on Tuesday was the latest in a series of violations of border truce signed in 2003.

Since the Uri assault, the militaries of the two countries have been regularly firing at each other daily across the LoC and the International Border.

On Monday, three civilians were injured in a similar exchange of fire in Poonch district.

India shares 50 kms of International Border and 740 kms of the Line of Control with Pakistan in Jammu and Kashmir. The boundary, manned by paramilitary Border Security Force (BSF) runs through Jammu district and the LoC, which is not an internationally-accepted frontier, cuts across other regions of the state.

–IANS

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