Wednesday, December 26, 2001, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi


M A I N   N E W S

30 more Pakistani soldiers killed
Several desert posts; 20 bunkers destroyed
Tribune News Service and Agencies

A gunner of the Indian Army loads a bombshell
A gunner of the Indian Army loads a bombshell while other aim toward Pakistan in the Galar area of the Samba sector in Jammu and Kashmir on Monday. — Reuters photo

BSF men keep vigil
BSF men keep vigil near the LOC near Khem Karan on Tuesday. — PTI photo

A woman comforts her son
A woman comforts her son during the exchange of fire between Indian and Pakistani forces in the village of Banglad in the Samba sector in Jammu and Kashmir on Monday. — Reuters photo

Jammu, December 25
At least 30 Pakistani soldiers were killed and more than 60 Pakistani troops wounded across Samba, Poonch and Rajouri sectors during the past 24 hours. More than 12 Pakistani posts and 20 bunkers were also destroyed in the Indian retaliatory fire.

Reports said the Pakistani troops had moved high-calibre weapons, including nuclear missiles across Poonch and Rajouri.

Pakistan deployed more than 15 medium range ballistic missile batteries along the Line of Control (LoC) in almost all sectors from Akhnoor to Poonch while rushing in more troops from 1 Corps to reinforce the ranks of 10 and 30 Corps.

A senior military officer of the Northern Command said here this afternoon that 10 Pakistani bunkers were blown to smithereens when the troops unleashed 82 MM mortar shells and fired bullets from heavy machine guns (HMGs) in a retaliatory strike in the Mendhar area of the Poonch sector.

Four Pakistani soldiers were also killed in the strike and scores were injured. The soldiers deployed in the front could be seen fleeing their posts, he said.

In a bid to divert the attention of the Indian troops, Pakistani troops opened another front at Gambhir also in the same sector, but this time the veracity of their firepower was high right from the beginning.

The troops deployed here initially opened fire from the HMGs in an attempt to dislodge the Pakistani troops from their bunkers, and continued with their “precision firing” for about a couple of hours.

Soon after the Pakistanis began to fire mortar shells on Indian positions forcing the troops to retaliate. In the subsequent prolonged mortar firing, four bunkers were destroyed, while two Pakistani soldiers were killed and at least 15 sustained serious injuries.

Meanwhile, in the Samba sector, the troops and Pakistani Rangers were locked in fierce mortar shelling on each other’s frontier positions.

The spokesman said in reply to Pakistan’s mortar firing, the troops also fired heavy mortar shells and in the ensuing battle two Pakistani soldiers were killed and six of their bunkers blown-off.

The firing was on when the reports last came in.

Three Army jawans were wounded in Pakistan firing on the Indian border posts in the Hiranagar area of Kathua district today. Jawan Rakesh Kumar succumbed to his injuries later.

The Pakistan troops fired mortar shells and opened fire with small arms in the Pargwal area of the Akhnoor sector in which an Indian jawan was killed.

Pakistani troops also targeted a patrol party of the BSF and the Army, killing two jawans and critically injuring a woman in the Suchetgarh area in the Jammu-Poonch sector, official sources said here today.

The sources said a woman was killed and five others were injured in shelling in the same sector late

Meanwhile, a report from Srinagar said the Army killed five top Lashkar-e-Toiba militants, including its self-styled battalion commander, and busted a major militant hideout in north Kashmir where it seized a huge cache of arms, ammunition and explosives, defence sources said today.

The hideout was unearthed at Potshahi forests in the frontier district of Kupwara last evening.

Security personnel gunned down three militants last evening at Waripora-Watergam in Baramula district.

Another militant of the same group identified as Zubair Sidiqui, code Abu Abida, was killed at Sogam-Chand by the Army. An AK rifle, its four magazines, 71 rounds and seven hand grenades were seized.

In Jammu, three foreign mercenaries belonging to the Lashkar were among four persons killed in the Surankote and Gursai areas of Poonch district since last night, official sources said here today.

One civilian, Sajjad Hussain, was kidnapped and later killed by the militants in the Gursai area of Poonch early today, the sources said. UNI, PTI


Pak troops lay mines along LoC
M.L. Kak
Tribune News Service

Jammu/Samba, December 25
Pakistani troops have laid mines along the LoC to prevent the Indian forces from marching into their territory with the two sides locked in an eyeball-to-eyeball position.

The Indian forces too have started to mine the border belt to check infiltration from across the LoC. Official sources said following the deployment of additional troops and mining of the border belt from Uri to Kupwara and from Kupwara to Rajouri the rate of infiltration had declined markedly.

But this exercise, according to Defence Ministry sources, did not stop the Pakistani troops who continued heavy firing on the border villages in Rajouri, Samba and R.S. Pora sectors today.

It was for the first time during the past several days that the Pakistani soldiers used artillery guns to pound some of the Indian border villages in Poonch and Rajouri sectors. They also resorted to heavy mortar shelling from across Samba sectors.

During the past 24 hours, three Indian bunkers have been smashed, killing two soldiers and a woman and wounding seven, including two soldiers in Rajouri, Poonch and Samba sectors.

The Indian forces today retaliated in Nowshehra sector in Rajouri area and damaged several Pak bunkers. Unofficial reports said several Pak soldiers deployed across Rajouri and Samba were killed or wounded in the Indian retaliatory fire.

A visit to several border areas, including Samba, revealed that deep craters had been formed at places where the Pakistani mortar shells exploded. Two Indian soldiers had died due to mortar explosions.

At Khari, Karmars, Digwar, Sokar and adjoining border villages, hundreds of civilians had packed their belongings and were looking for an opportunity to move to safer places. Several hundred families from Samba sector, including Faqeera, Kangrail, Sirki and other hamlets have already migrated to safer places.

Some of the migrants have camped in school buildings and others have gone to their relatives and friends for a few days.

Mr Kartar Singh, a villager said: “We fled from our houses in panic after the Pakistani troops resorted to heavy mortar shelling on our village during the past two days. He said: “We have nothing to eat and we seek government’s help to enable us to survive.”

Officials in Rajouri and Poonch said several hundred head of cattle had died in heavy Pak firing. Mr Som Raj, a farmer from R.S. Pora said: “We are frightened of working in our farms.”

The government functionaries confirmed that passenger bus services to distant border villages in Rajouri and Samba sectors had been suspended because of heavy firing.

Ms Krishna Devi, a migrant staying at a camp in Akhnoor sector, said: “The fresh flare-up on the border has dimmed the prospects of our going back to our village.” She said: “For the past over two years, we are leading a life of penury. We live on doles. We have lost our cattle and our fertile agricultural land is barren now.”

The security forces have started imposing night curfew in several border belts. Mr Raj Kumar said: “Roads and streets in border areas wear a deserted look after the sunset.”

Defence Ministry sources said though the situation was tense on the border, there was no cause for any alarm: “Our troops are fully prepared to face any challenge from Pakistan,” they said.

The state administration, meanwhile, has been put on high alert to handle problems of new migrants.

In this connection, a high-level meeting of officers from the civil administration, police, army and paramilitary forces was held here today to review the security scenario. The meeting was presided over by the Chief Secretary, Mr Ashok Jaitly.

Mr Jaitly placed Rs 50 lakh, in the first instance, at the disposal of the Divisional Commissioner, Jammu, for meeting immediate requirements of border residents and gave instructions to leave nothing undone for want of funds.

He also issued instructions to field officers not to leave their stations and remain available at the headquarters round the clock to provide necessary assistance to the affected people. He also asked all heads of departments to maintain a close rapport for solving various issues related to the migrated people and regular monitoring of their field agencies.

The Divisional Commissioner would be holding frequent meetings with them to review the measures taken by the administration from time to time, he said.

The thrust of the administration would be to meet the immediate needs like shelter, drinking water and other essentials. He asked the divisional administration to identify school and other government buildings for providing shelter.

Reviewing the stocks of foodgrains, kerosene and other essentials, the Chief Secretary said sufficient stocks were available to meet the requirements, both in the border areas and elsewhere in the state.Back

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