Police officials say Pak troops targeted dozens of villages with gunfire, mortar shelling in Shahpur, Kirni and Digwar sectors on Monday morning

In yet another incident of Pakistan’s transgression on Indian soil, three children, including a 10-year-old boy and a 15-year-old girl, were killed in Poonch district of Jammu and Kashmir as Pakistani troops violated ceasefire early on Monday morning, unleashing automatic gunfire and mortar shelling across several villages of the districts.

The incident occurred days after personnel of the Border Security Force discovered a 14-foot-long tunnel along the Line of Control in Jammu’s Arnia sector which was stocked with ammunition by Pakistani infiltrators, raising concerns of an imminent large scale attack in the restive state. Ceasefire violations have seen a spurt in J&K this year – there were 285 such violations until August 1 compared to 228 in the whole of 2016 – even as Pakistan continues to play a victim of terror at international platforms like the United Nations and blame India for atrocities on Kashmiri locals.

The latest ceasefire violation in Poonch, sources said, began at around 10.25 am on Monday morning. Firing by Pakistani troops was reported from villages located in the Kerni, Qasba and Shahpur sectors of Poonch. Sources said that the Pakistani troops had violated ceasefire on Sunday evening too but had stopped firing at around 9.30 pm on Sunday night.

Those killed in Monday’s attack include 15-year-old Yasmeen Akhtar, her elder brother 17-year-old Tazeem Akhtar (both residents of Digwar) and 10-year-old Israr Ahmed (resident of Qasba village in Kerni sector). Yasmeen and Tazeem’s mother, Sehima Bi and five-year-old sister Zobia, were also injured in the attack.

Another person, Mohammad Sajad, 30, was injured in Banpat village while civilians injured in the Qasba and Bagialdara villages include Reshma Bi (55), and her son Mohammad Rafiq (31), Yasir Hussain (13), Mohammad Sadiq (13) and Mohammd Sadiq, 54.

The victims were rushed to government district hospital at Poonch.

An Army vehicle was also damaged in the aggression by Pakistani troops. Sources said that besides the villages with civilian population, Pakistani troops also targeted Indian Army posts along the LoC.

The Indian Army said it was “retaliating strongly and effectively” to the ceasefire violations.

Reacting to the incident, Jammu and Kashmir’s deputy chief minister, Nirmal Singh said: “Pakistan is a country of cowards, on one side they show white flags and on other (they) target civilians.”

Meanwhile, the Indian Army also succeeded in foiling an infiltration bid in Tangdhar sector along the LoC in north Kashmir on Monday morning.

“An infiltration bid was foiled today by alert soldiers along the LoC in Tangdhar sector in north Kashmir,” an Army official said, adding that Indian soldiers noticed some suspicious movement near the LoC and challenged the suspects.

“An exchange of fire took place between the sides,” the Army official said while informing that a search operation was launched in the area soon after the gunfire stopped.