MIRPUR (AJK) - Indian aggression and bloodbath on the Line of Control in Kashmir continues without a break, causing loss of human lives on both sides.

As many as 20 lives were lost yesterday on the de facto border after the Indian troops resorted to unprovoked firing in Neelum, Bhimbher, Kotli and some other areas of Azad Jammu and Kashmir on Wednesday with the advent of dawn.

Nine civilians were killed and several others injured when a passenger coaster was hit by the Indian shells near Lawat Kanari Bala in scenic Neelum Valley, official sources said. A motorcyclist also died after being hit by a mortal shell in Karen area of Neelum.

The unfortunate incidents showed that India has no intention to stop targeting the civilian population despite repeated calls by Pakistan and the international community against this inhuman practice.

Ten deaths came on the military side as Pakistan lost three men in the Indian firing on the troop positions, while India suffered seven causalities in Pakistan’s retaliation.

“Three Pakistani soldiers valiantly embraced shahadat (martyrdom) at the Line of Control while responding to Indian unprovoked firing,” the ISPR said in a statement.

The army’s media wing identified the martyrs as Captain Taimoor Ali Khan, Havaldar Mushtaq Hussain and Lance Naik Ghulam Hussain.

Pakistan Army responded the unprovoked Indian firing in a befitting manner and seven Indian soldiers were confirmed dead in the retaliatory fire, the statement said.

Indian officials did not comment on the deaths, but a military spokesman alleged that Pakistani Army initiated “indiscriminate” firing in the morning on Indian Army posts in Bhimber Gali, Krishna Ghati and Nawshera sectors.

Earlier in the day, administration sources in the AJK said Indian forces resorted to firing and shelling in Shahkot, Jura, Battal Karela, Bagh, Baghsar and hot spring sectors targeting civilian population.

“Pakistani troops are hitting back at the Indian posts. Intense exchange of firing continues,” the sources added.

The Indian troops also resorted to unprovoked firing in Bandala, Chahawalian in Samani sector in Bhimbher district, besides Tattapani and Karaila Majhan sectors in Kotli district.

According to Neelum Valley Police, a coaster bearing number MDAJK-3866 was heading towards Muzaffarabad from Kel when it was targeted with mortar shells by the Indian troops near Lawat Kanari Bala, some 100 kilometres from AJK capital Muzaffarabad.

Senior police official Jamil Mir put the tally of dead at nine. He said four bodies were taken to a nearby hospital while five were still trapped in the bus.

Four of the deceased were identified as Mukhtar Shah, Muhammad Younas, Ahmad and Arif Mustafai. “Indian troops also fired on the ambulances that went to the spot to evacuate the victims,” local administration officials said.

AJK legislative assembly speaker Shah Ghulam Qadir strongly condemned the attack on the passenger coaster and calling it blatant aggression of the Indian military establishment.

He appealed to the United Nations Military Observers Group for India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP), stationed in Muzaffarabad and Rawalpindi, to take the notice of killing of civilians in the AJK.

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif also condemned the unprovoked firing by Indian security forces on the coaster van, said a statement by his office.

The statement added: “India has failed to comprehend the gravity of the situation (at LOC) and was trying to divert the attention of the international community from the grave human rights violations and atrocities being committed by the Indian security forces in the Indian Occupied Jammu & Kashmir”.

India has violated the ceasefire for 230 times during last few months by resorting to unprovoked firing on both military positions and civilian population in the forward areas, official sources said.

At least 41 civilians were martyred and 127 others injured as a result of the Indian aggression at the LoC and the working boundary, they said.

On Tuesday the Indian army accused Pakistan of sending soldiers across the LoC and killing three of its soldiers, saying one of the bodies had been mutilated.

But Pakistan angrily rejected the claim in a series of tweets from a foreign ministry spokesman late Tuesday, calling it “baseless” and a “fabrication”.

Tensions in the long-disputed Himalayan region reached dangerous levels in September, after India blamed Pakistani militants for a raid on an army base that killed 19 soldiers.

India said it had responded by carrying out “surgical strikes” across the heavily militarised border, sparking a furious reaction from Islamabad, which denied the strikes took place.

There have since been repeated outbreaks of cross-border firing, with both sides reporting deaths and injuries including of civilians. But the civilian toll on the Pakistani side has been disproportionately high, giving credence to claims that Indian troops intentionally target the civilian population.

20 die on Line of Bloodshed

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Bandala, Chahawalian in Samani sector in Bhimbher district, besides Tattapani and Karaila Majhan sectors in Kotli district.

According to Neelum Valley Police, a coaster bearing number MDAJK-3866 was heading towards Muzaffarabad from Kel when it was targeted with mortar shells by the Indian troops near Lawat Kanari Bala, some 100 kilometres from AJK capital Muzaffarabad.

Senior police official Jamil Mir put the tally of dead at nine. He said four bodies were taken to a nearby hospital while five were still trapped in the bus.

Four of the deceased were identified as Mukhtar Shah, Muhammad Younas, Ahmad and Arif Mustafai. “Indian troops also fired on the ambulances that went to the spot to evacuate the victims,” local administration officials said.

AJK legislative assembly speaker Shah Ghulam Qadir strongly condemned the attack on the passenger coaster and calling it blatant aggression of the Indian military establishment.

He appealed to the United Nations Military Observers Group for India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP), stationed in Muzaffarabad and Rawalpindi, to take the notice of killing of civilians in the AJK.

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif also condemned the unprovoked firing by Indian security forces on the coaster van, said a statement by his office.

The statement added: “India has failed to comprehend the gravity of the situation (at LOC) and was trying to divert the attention of the international community from the grave human rights violations and atrocities being committed by the Indian security forces in the Indian Occupied Jammu & Kashmir”.

India has violated the ceasefire for 230 times during last few months by resorting to unprovoked firing on both military positions and civilian population in the forward areas, official sources said.

At least 41 civilians were martyred and 127 others injured as a result of the Indian aggression at the LoC and the working boundary, they said.

On Tuesday the Indian army accused Pakistan of sending soldiers across the LoC and killing three of its soldiers, saying one of the bodies had been mutilated.

But Pakistan angrily rejected the claim in a series of tweets from a foreign ministry spokesman late Tuesday, calling it “baseless” and a “fabrication”.

AH Rao/Agencies