Sunday, December 30, 2001, Chandigarh, India





THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
M A I N   N E W S

Four Pakistani soldiers killed
Six bunkers destroyed
Tribune News Service and UNI

Indian soldiers mount mortars
Indian soldiers mount mortars on the Line of Control in the Chamb sector, 70 km west of Jammu, onSaturday. 
— Reuters photo

Jammu, December 29
Four Pakistani soldiers were killed and six of their bunkers destroyed when Indian troops opened heavy retaliatory artillery fire on frontier Pakistani positions across the line of control (LoC) in the Kopri area of Poonch sector early this morning.

Highly-placed security sources said the Pakistan Army opened heavy unprovoked fire on forward Indian positions around 3.30 a.m. this morning through 81 mm mortar guns and heavy machine guns (HMGs), targeting bunkers and communication towers. The shelling continued for about an hour, galvanising the Indian troops manning the forward positions to retaliate.

In retaliation, troops fired 82 mm mortar shells on Pakistani frontier positions and destroyed three of their bunkers, killing two Pakistani regulars in the first two hours of the fiery showdown.

Pakistani troops then opened fire from 105 mm guns on Indian positions to which troops retaliated effectively and destroyed two more Pakistani bunkers, killing two more regulars and wounding about 30 of them.

With thick fog enveloping the 187-km-long international border in Jammu sector, the security forces have been asked to maintain utmost vigil to check any infiltration or intrusion into the Indian territory.

Right from Akhnoor to Kathua the entire border belt was covered with a thick fog since last evening affecting the mobility of the troops. As the visibility range was reduced to five metres, trucks carrying troops moved at a snail’s pace even with headlights on during the late morning hours.

The arrival of additional forces from different areas in Jammu and neighbouring states was delayed by several hours as fog affected the movement of train services. Railways officials said all incoming trains were running four to 10 hours late because of fog.

Right from Friday morning nothing was visible from the border observation posts. From these BOP’s one could mark the movement of Pakistani troops and convoys but since yesterday even agricultural fields were not visible from this side of Suchetgarh, Abdulian, Panchtoot and other spots in R.S. Pora, Samba and Akhnoor sectors.

A senior BSF officer said, “We have asked our men to be on high alert so that Pakistani soldiers did not get any chance to crawl into our territory along with militants under the cover of fog.” From Samba, R.S. Pora, Kathua, Pragwal and several other border belts, a large number of people had migrated to safer places. While in Samba sector some of the villagers were temporarily housed in government school buildings, there were no suitable arrangements for the migrants from R.S. Pora and Akhnoor sectors.

According to senior state government functionaries, more than 50,000 persons had migrated to safer areas from the border villages in Akhnoor, R.S. Pora and Samba sector during the past one week.

They said more families were preparing to shift to safer places. They admitted that villages close to the zero line had been evacuated by the security forces to ensure that no civilian was killed in the Pak firing.

The functionaries said the state government required heavy Central assistance for providing temporary shelters and food and other basic amenities to the migrants.

J & K ultras

Jodhpur, December 29
About 15 Pakistan-backed terrorists, including members of the Al-Qaida, arrested in Jammu and Kashmir were brought here by a special plane for their lodging in the Central Jail, official sources said. PTI
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