ISLAMABAD: At least two Pakistan Army soldiers were killed as Indian troops fired across the Line of Control in Azad Jammu and Kashmir, Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said on Thursday. The Pakistani military confirmed the deaths of its soldiers yet dismissed the Indian claim of ‘surgical strikes.’
“There had been cross border fire initiated and conducted by India which is [an] existential phenomenon,” said an ISPR statement released shortly after the Indian DGMO held a press conference making claims about surgical strikes.
India strikes, Pakistan responds
The exchange of fire began at 2:30am, ISPR said, and continued till 8:00am.
“Pakistani troops befittingly responded to Indian unprovoked firing on the LoC in Bhimber, Hotspring Kel and Lipa sectors,” the statement said.
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The latest incident of cross-border firing comes as tensions simmer between Pakistan and India over the Kashmir issue, days after India accused Pakistan of involvement in the Uri army base attack in India-held Kashmir ─ an allegation that Pakistan has rejected.
Despite a 2003 border ceasefire agreement signed by both countries, cross-border firing along the working boundary is intermittent with both parties frequently accusing the other of breaching it.
Pakistan military rejects Indian claim
The Indian ministry of external affairs and ministry of defence addressed a joint press conference on Thursday after fire was exchanged on the LoC.
Director General of Military Operations (DGMO) Lt Gen Ranbir Singh said during the address that surgical strikes were conducted by the Indian army on “terror launch pads along the LoC.” He also added that the strikes will not continue.
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“Some terrorist teams had positioned themselves at launchpads along the Line of Control,” Lieutenant Singh, the director-general of military operations, said.
“The Indian army conducted surgical strikes last night at these launchpads.Significant casualties have been caused to these terrorists and those who are trying to support them,” he told a press conference in New Delhi.
“The operations aimed at neutralising the terrorists have since ceased.” Singh said the decision to launch the strikes had been taken after the military determined the launchpads had been set up with “an aim to carry out infiltration and terrorist strikes in Jammu and Kashmir and various other metros in our country.”
He did not say whether the strikes had been carried out by the Indian air force or by ground troops.
However, the Pakistan military swiftly dismissed the notion of a surgical strike.
“The notion of surgical strike linked to alleged terrorists bases is an illusion being deliberately generated by Indian to create false effects,” the military statement said.
“This quest by Indian establishment to create media hype by rebranding cross border fire as surgical strike is fabrication of truth. Pakistan has made it clear that if there is a surgical strike on Pakistani soil, same will be strongly responded.”
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif strongly condemned the incident, according to Radio Pakistan. “Our intent for a peaceful neighbourhood should not be mistaken as our weakness,” the PM said.
‘Small firearms used in attack’
Defence Minister Khawaja Asif said that small firearms were used during the skirmish and Pakistani forces responded in the same calibre. He added that nine army personnel were injured during the cross-firing on the LoC.
He further said that Indian forces started firing in five sectors and that he was unaware of the causalities on the other side of the border.