Monday, December 31, 2001, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Three Pak soldiers killed
Four bunkers destroyed
Tribune News Service and Agencies

Jammu, December 30
Three Pakistani soldiers were killed and four of their bunkers destroyed and a border outpost was badly damaged when Indian troops opened heavy retaliatory mortar fire on frontier Pakistani positions across the Line of Control (LoC) in the Kopri and Mendhar areas of Poonch sector early this morning.

Defence sources said here this afternoon that the Pakistan army opened heavy unprovoked fire on forward Indian positions in the Mendhar area this morning through 81 mm mortar guns and heavy machine guns (HMGs), targeting bunkers and forward positions. The shelling continued for about two hours, 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, sources said.

Pakistani troops opened fire from 105 mm guns on Indian positions to which troops retaliated effectively and destroyed the Kahuta border outpost of the Pakistan army in Kopri killing one regular and causing injuries to scores of their army men. Troops later destroyed one more Pakistani bunker in Kopri area.

According to reports last received firing has simmered down, but intermittent firing between both sides is on.

Changing the target area, Pakistani troops continued mortar shelling and firing on Indian positions in Siachen and Kargil sectors in Jammu and Kashmir since last night, official sources said today.

Pakistani troops resorted to "moderately heavy" mortar shelling and firing on several Indian positions in central and southern Siachen sector, Drass, Chorbatla and Turtuk areas of Kargil sector, the sources said.

There was no loss of life or damage to the property, they said, adding that the Indian troops retaliated the Pakistani action.

Indian and Pakistani troops also traded moderate mortar shelling and small arms firing along the Line of Control (LoC) in Kerni, Balakote, Mendhar, Noushera, Laa, Bhawani and Pallanwala areas of Jammu-Poonch sector since last night, they said. Small arms firing was also reported from across the International Border (IB) in Jammu till this morning. The BSF returned the fire, they added.

According to official sources, the Indian forces have laid mines on the entire LoC. The maximum area covered under the mines-laying exercise includes the one in Poonch, Rajouri, Kupwara and Keran.

During the past one week, Pakistani troops have resorted to heavy mortar. So, several hundred families, living in villages close to the zero line, in Poonch, Rajouri, Akhnoor and Samba sectors have been evacuated to safer places. Mines have been laid at these places.

Reports said several border villages in Akhnoor sector, especially Pargwal, Parwal, Nikowal, Chib, Chak, Neka, and scores of hamlets in Samba, Poonch and Rajouri sectors wear a deserted look after more than 80 per cent of people fled to safer places.Back


Be ready, Fernandes tells troops

Jaisalmer (Rajasthan), December 30
Defence Minister George Fernandes reviewed security arrangements on the Indo-Pak border here and asked forces to be on alert to meet any eventuality.

Fernandes, who will visit forward positions on the border, yesterday told the forces to be ready to give a befitting reply to the enemy.

He held separate discussions with Air Force and Army officials on the security scenario in the wake of build-up on the Indo-Pak border.

The Defence Minister also discussed civil defence arrangements being made by the district administration.

This is Fernandesí first visit to this border district after the December 13 terror attack on Parliament. PTI


People in border areas migrate

Jaisalmer (Rajasthan) December 30
Authorities said today that rising tensions on the Indo-Pak border had forced people living in the border regions in Barmer and Jaisalmer districts to migrate to safer places.

Barmer District Collector Moolchand Arya said here that between 50-60 per cent of the population of several villages and cluster of houses in the border areas of the district has already migrated so far.

Neither the administration nor the army authorities have issued any directive to evacuate these villages, he maintained.

Mr Arya said that more than half of the families of over 15 villages, including Tohadi, Panchala, Jaysinder, Gadra, Akli, Munaba, Navapura and Kailor had already left.

However, several persons have sent their women and children to their relations and have stayed back at the villages, he pointed out.

In Jaisalmer, people of the border regions have themselves rebuilt their houses at safer places, official sources said, adding that that the army authorities had asked cattle grazers not to venture close to the border. UNIBack

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