Cross-LoC shelling creates panic among residents in Rajouri, Poonch

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Srinagar

Panic was triggered in Poonch and Rajouri districts of Jammu and Kashmir after armies of both India and Pakistan exchanged heavy shelling and gun fires along Line of Control (LoC) in the twin districts of the state.

Media reports suggest that shelling started this evening in various areas of the Poonch and Rajouri districts. In Rajouri, the areas include Nowshera Baba Khori, Kalal, Pokhra, and Tarkundi.

While as Krishna Ghati and Balakote in Poonch district also witnessed a heavy shelling and gun fires, however, there were no immediate reports of any casualty from either side.

Earlier, IAF claimed to have carried out a pre-dawn raid at the biggest camp of the militant group Jaish-e-Mohammed in Balakote early this morning. Following which the Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale, said that after receiving the credible information that JeM was attempting another attack in various parts of the country, and the “Fidayeen Jihadis” were being trained for this purpose. In the face of imminent danger, a pre-emptive strike became absolutely necessary.

In an intelligence-led operation in the early hours of today, India struck the biggest training camp of JeM in Balakot. “In this operation, a very large number of “JeM militants, trainers, senior commanders and groups of Jihadis who were being trained for Fidayeen action were killed,” Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale said. “This facility at Balakot was headed by Maulana Yousuf Azhar (alias Ustad Ghouri), the brother-in-law of Masood Azhar, Chief of JeM,” he added.

“The Government of India is firmly and resolutely committed to taking all necessary measures to fight the menace of militancy. Hence this non-military pre-emptive action was specifically targeted at the JeM camp. The selection of the target was also conditioned by our desire to avoid civilian casualties. The facility is located in the thick forest on a hilltop far away from any civilian presence. As the strike has taken place only a short while ago, we are awaiting further details,” Gokhale said.

Media reports suggest that a number of people operating from Balakote were killed, and they were allegedly preparing from another attack. However, the exact figure of the causalities of the people was not revealed by the officials yet.

Earlier, on February 14, an attack on paramilitary convoy claimed the life of 49 troopers in Awantipora area of Pulwama district in Jammu and Kashmir. The responsibility of the attack was later taken by the JeM outfit.

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