Monday, December 24, 2001, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi


M A I N   N E W S

10 Pak soldiers killed; 15 bunkers destroyed
Tribune News Service and agencies

Jammu, December 23
At least 10 Pakistani soldiers were killed and 15 Pakistani bunkers were destroyed in heavy Indian retaliatory firing across Poonch and Samba sectors during the past 24 hours.

Fifteen Pakistani bunkers were destroyed, two ammunition dumps were blown up and at least 25 Pakistani troops severely injured when Indian soldiers opened retaliatory mortar fire on Pakistani positions across the Line of Control (LoC) in Kerni sector of Poonch district this afternoon.

A senior Northern Command officer said here this evening that the Pakistani troops had been firing intermittently on the Indian forward positions throughout the morning, injuring three Indian soldiers.

Soon after, the 93rd Brigade manning the LoC in the Kerni sector opened heavy mortar fire targeting Pakistani bunkers and ammunition dumps.

“Our troops unleashed precision firing on their positions using medium to heavy mortar shells and in the first hour seven Pakistani bunkers were destroyed and an ammunition dump blown up, throwing their defensive mechanism out of gear,” the officer added.

The Army officer said a mortar shell hit the fuel, oil and lubricants depot of the Pakistani Army, sending up huge plumes of smoke. The neighbouring country’s soldiers were seen leaping out of their bunkers to escape the shelling.

As the shelling continued, one more Pakistani ammunition dump caught fire, sending officers and men scurrying for cover. All those manning the posts and other bunkers fled to safety.

The Pakistani army has evacuated three bordering villages. Intense shelling was in progress when reports last came in.

Meanwhile one more BSF jawan — Constable K.C. Das — who sustained severe injuries in firing by Pakistan rangers at Galar border outpost in the Samba sector this morning, succumbed to injuries at the military hospital in Samba, taking the total death toll of BSF personnel to three.

A BSF spokesman said earlier that Head Constable C.K. Jaiprakash and Constable K.A. Bhai died on the spot when the Pakistan rangers trained their heavy machine-guns on a BSF foot patrol near the outpost at 9.15 a.m. Constable Bhaskar is still battling for life at the military hospital.

Brig P.C. Das, Brigadier-General Staff 16 Corps, said, “Our troops are fully prepared to meet any challenge from across the border.” He said, “We are on a high alert and all measures have been taken to deal a deadly blow to the Pakistani troops.”

In another incident, one truck cleaner was killed and two doctors were wounded when militants opened fire on the two vehicles near Surankot in Poonch district late last evening.

The police said first the militants fired on a car in which two doctor were wounded. Later the same group of militants targeted a truck and cleaner was killed.

The situation on the LoC and international border continued to be tense soon after both sides resorted to heavy military build-up. In various border villages, people were getting ready to migrate to safer places in case a war broke out. However, in the towns and cities in the state, people were seen making heavy purchases of essential items. They were adding to their stocks of eatables fearing that war may push up prices.

Reports reaching here from across the border said the Pakistani troops had ordered civilians in scores of villages across Poonch and Rajouri to quit their ancestral villages. Reports said the huts and houses vacated by the civilians were being occupied by the Pakistani soldiers who had taken positions in the border villages.

Meanwhile, Pakistan has rushed additional troops from the 26 Corps, which is the Strike Corps, to reinforce its ranks along the Line of Control (LoC) in the Nowshera sector of Rajouri district during the past 24 hours.

Highly-placed sources told UNI here this afternoon that more troops from the 26 Corps, stationed in Sialkot, have been rushed near the LoC. “The 26 Corps is a Strike Corps and troops being ferried from Sialkot is aimed at fortifying their Strike Formation. Trucks loaded with troops and heavy artillery are arriving on the other side since last afternoon, which is of serious concern,” sources said.

The continuing amassing of troops by Pakistan is causing serious concern among the security experts here who opine that the neighbouring nation already has enough personnel deployed along the LoC. The country had earlier deployed the 10 and 30 Corps, rendering the build-up formidable.

Reports said Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) were spotted along the Nowshera sector.

LeT leader killed

SRINAGAR: In a major breakthrough, self-styled deputy chief of Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) outfit Saifullah Askari, alias Owais, was killed along with his close associate in a joint encounter by the Army and Special Operations Group (SOG) of Jammu and Kashmir Police in Baramula district, a Defence spokesman said here on Sunday.

Askari and his close aide, Mirza, alias Abu Ali, were killed by the joint search party of the Army and SOG following a fierce encounter at Watrena village near Lawaypora in Bandipora area on Saturday night, the spokesman said.Back


4 Indian bunkers destroyed, claims Pakistan

Islamabad, December 23
Pakistan today claimed that its forces have destroyed four Indian bunkers in the Poonch and Rawalkot sectors of the Line of Control when its forces retaliated heavy artillery firing from across the border while media reports here said four civilians were injured in the Indian shelling.

Four strong Indian Army bunkers were destroyed while many others were damaged in retaliatory firing from the Pakistani army in the two sectors, a defence press note issued here said. PTIBack


Forces on high alert: George
Hopes better sense will prevail over Pak

New Delhi, December 23
Indian forces are in a state of “very high alert” in the wake of Pakistani build-up along the border after last week’s terror attack on Parliament but New Delhi still does not feel that the situation might spill over into a conflict or a nuclear flashpoint.

India hopes that better sense would prevail over Pakistan and that it will take action against those who have been behind the terrorist acts and punish the guilty.

Maintaining that the forces have always been on the alert on the western frontiers, Defence Minister George Fernandes today said “September 11 (terrorist attack on the USA) itself made us take more precautions because after all terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir has its roots in Pakistan and Afghanistan. And December 13 made it imperative to get the forces into a state of very high alert.”

Immediately after the December 13 incident, Pakistani reserve divisions and other strike forces were moved to the frontlines “but they have not taken up any battle position”, he told PTI in a wide-ranging interview.

“It now came to a point that India had to take notice. This is when India had to bring its forces closer to the border both in Punjab and Rajasthan. These include movement of some formations of strike forces,” he said. Tanks and artillery form part of the strike forces.

“Our preparedness to meet any eventuality is there. And this holds good for the Army, the Navy and the Air Force,” he added.

Mr Fernandes also pointed out that some of Pakistani army units from armoured corps, which had been earlier carrying out exercises in their parts of Thar desert, had stayed on there even after the war-games were over.

To a question whether he subscribed to the theory that the subcontinent was a nuclear flashpoint, Mr Fernandes said India’s nuclear doctrine was very clear and categoric that it would not be the first to fire a nuclear weapon.

“And one would like to believe that every country knows the implications of using such a weapon,” he said.

Asked if Islamabad could attempt any adventurism in this regard, the Defence Minister said, “There is no reason for us to believe that such a step would be taken by Pakistan”. PTIBack

Home | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Editorial |
Business | Sport | World | Mailbag | In Spotlight | Chandigarh Tribune | Ludhiana Tribune
50 years of Independence | Tercentenary Celebrations |
121 Years of Trust | Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |