ISLAMABAD/SRINAGAR  - Pakistan Army yesterday rejected Indian claim of ceasefire violation on Line of Control and mutilating bodies of two soldiers, saying it was a highly professional force that could never disrespect even enemy soldiers.

Also on Monday, Hizbul Mujahideen, which has been fighting for Kashmir’s freedom for decades, killed five policemen in a bank raid in the Occupied Valley.

Earlier in the day, Indian army accused Pakistan of killing two of its soldiers and mutilating their bodies in an “unprovoked” rocket and mortar attack in the tense border region.

In a statement, it claimed that Pakistani troops attacked a patrol operating between two border posts on the Line of Control.

“In an un-soldierly act by the Pak Army the bodies of two of our soldiers in the patrol were mutilated,” the statement said, warning of an “appropriate response”.

Pakistan Army strongly rejected the claims, saying it did not commit any ceasefire violation on the LOC or carried out a BAT action in Buttal sector (Indian Krishna Ghatti Sector).

Army’s media wing, Inter Services Public Relations, said in a press release that Indian blame of mutilating Indian soldiers’ bodies were also false. “Pakistan Army is a highly professional force and shall never disrespect a soldier even Indian.”

BAT stands for Border Action Team and, according to sources, Pakistan Army has no such team as falsely implicated by India.

Defence Minister Khwaja Asif also strongly rebutted Indian claims. In a series of tweets, he said “Indian allegations of Pakistani incursion on LOC r baseless. It is a deplorable attempt to ignite tensions for internal political motives.”

“These baseless allegations r aimed at vitiating the environment, deflecting attention from troubles in Kashmir & demonising Pakistan Army.

“We remain fully committed to peace on LOC.V expect prudence will b exercised on Indian side to avoid situation spiralling out of control.

“Pakistan Army upholds highest standards of professional conduct..violation of LOC & question of mutilation of bodies does not arise at all.”

Earlier, Indian media reported that Indian troops exchanged fire with Pakistanis on the LoC in Krishna Ghati sector of frontier Poonch district, about 180 km southwest of Srinagar city.

“Today Pakistani troops fired on our joint operational party in KG sector of Poonch district, during which a BSF man and a junior commissioned officer of army were killed,” Dharmendra Parikh, a senior BSF officer told Xinhua. “Another BSF man was wounded and he has been removed to hospital.”

According to Parikh, the Pakistani side used automatic weapons and fired rockets targeting the operational party. The firing broke out around 8:30 local time (0300 GMT) and lasted for several hours.

Last year saw a surge in skirmishes on the International Border and the LoC between the two countries. Apart from troop casualties, the firing has claimed civilian lives on both sides, besides prompting migrations of residents from frontier areas.

Bank raid killings

Inside the occupied territory of Kashmir, India’s security forces suffered a blow when five policemen were shot dead in a bank raid.

A party of freedom fighters opened fire on a bank van carrying cash around 70 kilometres south of Kashmir’s main city of Srinagar, killing everybody on board, police said.

“All the seven in the van, five policemen and two bank employees, were killed,” director general of police SP Vaid told AFP about the raid in Pumbai in Kulgam district.

The gunmen made off with cash and weapons, another police officer said, on condition of anonymity.

In a statement to a local news agency, homegrown freedom fighters group Hizbul Mujahideen claimed responsibility for the attack and warned more would follow.

The freedom fighters in recent months have targeted banks in the southern region of the Kashmir valley, where they have been fighting against Indian rule for decades.

Anti-India sentiment runs deep in the predominantly Muslim Kashmir valley, one of the world’s most heavily militarised spots, where most people favour independence or a merger with Pakistan.

Apart from armed militant groups, the roughly 500,000 Indian soldiers and an almost equal number of paramilitary forces and police deployed in Kashmir are regularly involved in clashes with civilians, fuelling growing resentment against New Delhi.

The valley has been roiled by violence in recent months, with security forces opening fire on stone-throwing protesters. Indian troops last week shot at a crowd of demonstrators outside an army garrison where militants had earlier killed three soldiers, hitting one civilian who later died.

India martyred 25 Kashmiris in April

Indian troops in their unabated acts of state terrorism martyred 25 Kashmiris including six young boys and two women in occupied Kashmir in the last month of April.

According to the data compiled by the Research Section of Kashmir Media Service (KMS), 646 civilians were injured when Indian troops and police personnel resorted to brute force, pellets, PAVA and teargas shelling on defenseless protesters, while 427 Hurriyet leaders, activists and students were arrested during the period.

Indian paramilitary personnel disgraced (raped) 30 women while 125 residential houses were destroyed, damaged and ransacked during April.

India accelerates work on new LOC fence

The Indian Army is accelerating work for installation of a ‘smart fence’ to replace the existing border fence at the Line of Control, The Hindu reported. The new fence has undergone trials, which have been termed successful.

The existing fence, constructed between 2003 and 2005, consists of two rows of concertina wire loops. A senior officer told The Hindu that the old fence had “high rate of degradation” from snow and needed repairs every season. The repairs cost Rs 500-600 millions every year, the officer said.

The new fence, a proposal for which has been in the works for some time, will enable round the clock real-time surveillance.

For trial, the army installed the fence on a 50km stretch and will implement the project for erecting the fence all along the LoC through Army Corps of Engineers, the officer told newspaper.

“The smart fence stretching about 700 km will have enhanced surveillance features with sensors integrated and also has better survivability,” the officer added. The new fence is expected to cost around one billion rupees.