Fear in villages over shootout

January 11, 2013 - 5:43:02 am

TITRINOT, Pakistan: Pakistani villagers in Kashmir living on the de facto border with India say they are trapped indoors, terrified by heavy exchanges of fire between two troops.

In the village of Darmassal, on the edge of the Line of Control and just metres away from Indian positions, boats which usually ferry people across the Poonch river have stayed moored since Wednesday because of heavy Indian firing, residents say. 

“We are scared. We can’t come out because the area is under constant fire,” villager Shaukat Butt, 38, said while hiding in a house.

“We used to cross the river by boat but yesterday Indian soldiers fired at our boat, so everybody is confined inside now and the boats have stopped,” he said.

Darmassal is part of the Battal region, where Pakistan accused Indian troops of opening fire and killing a Pakistani soldier yesterday, the third cross-border incident since Sunday. The Indian army post stands on the mountainside opposite the village and a Pakistani post lies beneath it, in front of the village and the river.

“I am very worried about my children. I want this firing to stop,” said Nazia Bibi, 35, who left her three children with her husband in the nearby main town of Titrinot and went to Hajira, another border town 12km away, to see her parents. She says she is now too scared to return to Titrinot.

“I want to go back to my husband and children but can’t due to this firing. There is constant firing at the civilian population by the Indian side,” she said. “We and our children are not safe in these conditions, we want peace,” she added.

A road between Titrinot and Hajira, which is the main route for trucks carrying supplies to and from India and Pakistan, has also been closed due to the firing.AFP