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The Indian Army killed seven Pakistani soldiers on Monday, January 15, as it retaliated to unprovoked ceasefire violation from across the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir’s Mendhar sector in Poonch district.

The action comes after an Indian solider was killed in Pakistani firing along the LoC in Jammu and Kashmir’s Rajouri district on Saturday.

A report in The India Express (IE), quoting sources, said the Pakistani troops resorted to sudden mortar shelling and small arms fire on forward Indian positions along the LoC in Dehri Dabsi area around 10.15 am. The Indian Army retaliated strongly and effectively and the exchange of fire lasted for nearly an hour.

Pakistan claimed to have killed three Indian soldiers. “4 Pakistan Army soldiers embraced shahadat along LOC in Jandrot, Kotli sector. Troops were busy in Line communication maintenance when they were fired upon and hit by heavy mortar round. Exchange of fire killed 3 Indian soldiers while few injured,” Pakistani Army spokesperson Major General Asif Ghafoor wrote on Facebook. The Pakistan government, too, posted this on its Twitter account.

The Army also killed six Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM) terrorists. “We have recovered five bodies from the spot. I think six have died, one body is being searched. They belonged to Jaish-e-Mohammed and information was that they are suicide attackers,” said SP Vaid, director general of police, Jammu and Kashmir, according to a Times of India (TOI) report.

“Since past few days, we were getting inputs about possible attempts to infiltrate from Uri sector. So, ambushes were laid out in that area by Army, J&K police & CRPF. In the morning, exchange of fire took place in one of the ambushes,” said Vaid, according to the report.

Separately, addressing Army members at an event of the 70th Army Day, Indian Army Chief General Bipin Rawat warned Pakistan to not compel India to step up its military offensive.

“Pakistan Army has been continuously trying to help terrorists sneak into India along LoC in J&K. We are using our might to teach them a lesson. If we are forced, then we may resort to other action by stepping up military offensive,” he said.

The Army chief also talked about Pakistan’s non-stop ceasefire violations. “Ceasefire violations by Pakistan happen frequently, to which we respond effectively. We will take even stronger steps against our enemies if we are compelled to do so,” said General Rawat.

Any anti-India activities will not be allowed to succeed, he added.

Pakistan has violated the ceasefire along the International Border (IB) and the LoC in Jammu and Kashmir more than 720 times last year, the highest in the past seven years. According to data compiled by the Union Home Ministry, Pakistani forces have violated ceasefire 724 times along the IB and the LoC till October in comparison to 449 times in 2016.

As many as 12 civilians and 17 security personnel were killed in the firing from across the border until last October.

Last week, Rawat said Pakistan’s ‘nuclear bogey’ will be thoroughly exposed were there to be war with the western neighbour, which often brandishes its short-range Nasr (Hatf-IX) nuclear missiles as a battlefield counter to India’s Cold Start strategy of swift, high-intensity conventional attacks into enemy territory.

“We will call their bluff. If given the task, we will not say we cannot cross the border because they have nuclear weapons,” said Rawat.

General Rawat also said that disputes along Line of Actual Control in the country’s northern border with China are continuing, with regular transgressions occurring. “We are working to stop them,” he said.

As for the Eastern front, the Army chief said terrorism there has been limited. “Our intelligence based and people-friendly operations in the north-east have managed to limit terrorism to a large extent,’ he said.

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