India today launched another major offensive against Pakistan after latter’s army targeted defence locations and civilian areas along Line of Control (LoC) in three sectors in twin border districts of Poonch and Rajouri and also activated International Border in Ramgarh sector of Samba district. At least nine posts and bunkers of Pakistan army have been destroyed opposite Krishna Ghati and Nowshera sectors in retaliatory fire by the troops while Pakistan claimed civilian casualties on their side.

Significantly, Pakistan army activated three major sectors along LoC including Krishna Ghati, Bhimber Gali and Nowshera in Rajouri and Poonch districts today, just a day after Pakistan army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa visited Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) and some forward posts on the LoC, where he inter-acted with Field Commanders and jawans.

Official sources told the Excelsior that heavy mortar shelling and firing by Pakistan army on the LoC in Rajouri and Poonch districts, which began late last night and continued till this afternoon, was a clear indication that troops across the LoC were instructed to keep pot boiling on the LoC. However, they said, the Indian troops, who were anticipating misadventures by Pakistan following the visit of Bajwa to the LoC, retaliated Pakistan shelling and firing very effectively.

According to sources, at least nine posts and bunkers of Pakistan army have been razed to ground across Krishna Ghati and Nowshera sectors in retaliatory firing by the Indian troops. Pakistan claimed civilian casualties, both fatal and non-fatal, on their side. Sources didn’t rule out fatalities on part of Pakistan army in destruction of their posts but there were no exact numbers.

“The Pakistani posts, damaged during retaliatory firing, were trying to target civilian population on the Indian side using heavy 82mm and 120mm mortar shells and automatic weapons,” they said, adding destruction of Pakistani posts led to halt on shelling and firing in most of the forward areas on LoC except Nowshera sector, where it continued till late tonight.

Nearly 30 forward villages and large number of Army posts came under intense shelling from Pakistan in Krishna Ghati sector last night and Bhimber Gali and Nowshera sectors during the day today. Shelling in Nowshera sector stopped at 2.30 pm but resumed again at 6.40 pm, leading to panic among the border dwellers, nearly 10,000 of whom had to migrate last month from their houses after three fatal casualties of civilians in mortar shelling.

“The Indian side was replaying at all the places very effectively to silence Pakistani guns,” sources said.

They added that the authorities in both Poonch and Rajouri districts were monitoring situation in the shelling-hit villages but so far there has been no migration in any area. Authorities were ready to meet with any eventuality and have kept Contingency Plan in place, if the need arises.

Sources said there were no casualties or damage on Indian side in Pakistan shelling and firing during the day but majority of people in the forward villages in the two border districts remained confined to their houses.

The people didn’t venture out of their houses as mortar shells were landing in civilian populated villages, sources said, adding the people were confined to their houses and bunkers to protect themselves.

“Most of the villages in forward areas were completely deserted with people not moving out of their houses even after mortar shelling stopped at some places in the afternoon anticipating spurt in hostilities along the LoC,” sources said.

Meanwhile, Pakistani Rangers also activated the International Border by firing few shots in Ramgarh sector of Samba district this morning.

Sources said the Rangers fired few rounds targeting forward posts of the BSF in Ramgarh sector at 10 am today. The BSF retaliated, leading to exchanges that continued for 45 minutes. However, there were no casualties or damage on the Indian side, they added.

Few days back, Pakistan had violated ceasefire along the International Border in Arnia sector.

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