Heavy shelling, gunfire across LoC damages houses, kills cattle
Baramulla: A massive evacuation of civilians is underway in the border area of Uri in Baramulla district. The Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM) Uri, D Sagar, told Kashmir Reader that ambulances and private vehicles were used to move out nearly 700 people from Tilawari and adjoining areas on Saturday to school and college buildings in Uri town. All the residents of Silikote village have already been moved out, most of them put in a school building in Uri. The SDM said that about 8,000 people of seven villages are affected due to cross-border firing between Indian and Pakistani troops. He said that senior officers of the district administration are monitoring the situation and the rescue operation is continuing. He said that there is no report yet of any human life lost.
Local people said that Tata Sumo vehicles were also put into the service for rescue, police and Army vehicles are not allowed to go into the area as the area is under the firing range of Pakistani forces.
Heavy exchange of gunfire and mortar shelling began Saturday morning between troops on either side of the Line of Control (LoC). There had been a halt to the firing on Friday but Saturday morning began with bullets being fired from both sides and then heavy mortars targeted army posts either side of the LoC. Locals said the shelling continued for hours and several residential houses, cow sheds, and huts were damaged. Locals also said that scores of cattle were killed in the shelling.
A senior official of the Indian Army posted in the area said that Pakistani troops targeted Indian posts with machine guns and mortars at 11:30am, but alert Indian troops retaliated effectively and damaged several Pakistani posts. He said there was no loss of life or injury to the Indian Army.
SDM Sagar said that when the cross-border firing started, “I along with SDPO Uri personally visited the spot and we shifted about 600 to 700 people to safer places in ambulances and Sumo vehicles. We shifted these people to the government boys’ higher secondary school Uri, government degree college Uri, and government girls’ higher secondary school Uri, where we arranged all the necessities for these affected people.”
The SDM said that situation was tense when he visited the area. “I personally saw dozens of shells in the area,” he said.
The SDM said that more accommodation will be arranged for the people if required.
Residents of Silikote, Hathlanga, and Tilawari villages said that the situation on the other side of the LoC is also tense. They said that dozens of ambulances and private vehicles were seen in Pakistan’s Khawajabanday area shifting people behind the mountains. They said that some people announced through mosque loudspeakers in Khawajabanday that people should run to safer places and, soon after the announcements, people were seen running towards safer places behind the mountains. Several houses across the LoC were also seen damaged because of the shelling by Indian Army.
Despite heavy rains, mortar shelling was going on from both sides, when last reports came in.