MUZAFFARABAD: Several hundred villagers have fled their homes in Pakistani Kashmir after deadly cross-border shelling by the Indian army, Pakistani officials said yeerday. Pakistani authorities on Sunday accused the Indian army of killing two women and wounding seven other civilians in shelling across the Line of Control (LoC) which marks the de facto border in the disputed Himalayan region.
So far six Pakistanis are reported to have been killed in firing across the heavily militarised border since five Indian soldiers were ambushed and killed on August 5 in Kashmir.
Delhi blamed the August 5 killings on the Pakistani army, but Islamabad denied any responsibility and has called for restraint.
“Since Sunday at least 40 families or 300 people have left their homes in 10 villages in Nakyal sector to escape shelling by Indian troops,” said Javed Budhanwi, a cabinet minister for the regional government in Pakistani Kashmir.
Most of the displaced, from Datoot village, have been given shelter at camps set up in colleges in the town of Nakyal, Budhanwi said. About 10 families have moved in with relatives and more people are expected to flee in the next few days if the Indian firing continues, he added.
“We are requesting villagers to remain inside their houses as Indian troops are targeting the civilian population with small arms and heavy weapons,” he said.
Many villagers have dug trenches outside their houses for when the shelling starts, he said.
Four civilians were wounded by Indian fire on Monday, local government official Masood-ur-Rehman said. He also confirmed that families had started to flee.
The clashes threaten to jeopardise a planned meeting between the two countries’ prime ministers on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York next month.