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India, Pakistan continue trading fire

Jammu, May 21: Barely hours after agreeing to maintain peace on the border, the armies of India and Pakistan traded heavy fire along the international border (IB) in Jammu and Samba districts late Sunday.
An official said that the Pakistani Army resorted to “unprovoked” firing at the Border Security Force outposts in Arnia, Ramgarh and Chamliyal areas of Jammu and Kashmir late on Sunday.
“The firing started at 10 p.m. The BSF retaliated effectively. No casualty or damage was caused on our side,” he said.
Pakistani rangers and BSF officials on Sunday had agreed to maintain peace and tranquility on the border.
Top officials of Border Security Force (BSF) and its Pakistani Rangers had a telephonic conversation on Sunday to end the latest border flare up, officials said, after both sides suffered loss of lives and machinery in the heavy exchange of fire along the border in Jammu last week
The mortar firing from across the border, the official said, started around 0700 hours in Arnia sector of Jammu and was still continuing when last reports were received, a senior Border Security Force official said.
“Three border outposts are under fire from the Pakistani Rangers and the personnel deployed there are also retaliating to silence the Pakistani guns,” the official said.
“However, there was no immediate report of any casualty in the shelling,” he said.
On Sunday night, Pakistani troops fired small arms and mortars, targeting Narayanpur area of Ramgarh sector in Samba district, hours after talks with the BSF to stop firing, after being pounded with heavy artillery that left a trooper dead across the border.
The BSF also released a 19-second thermal-imagery footage, showing the destruction of a Pakistani picket across the border, during the firing and shelling along the IB.
The BSF has lost two of its soldiers in the latest round of unprovoked firing along the IB in Jammu region since May 15.
Four civilians were killed and 11 others injured on Friday in the Jammu area due to the firing, which increased in the wake of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s day-long visit to Jammu and Kashmir on May 19.
Pakistan too reported at least 5 casualties on the day.
The state has witnessed a spurt in skirmishes along the IB and the Line of Control (LoC) this year.
Over 700 such incidents have been reported this year, which have left 38 people, including 18 security personnel, dead and scores injured.
Meanwhile, schools along a section of the International Border (IB) were Monday closed down by authorities due to firing and shelling by Pakistani troops, officials said.
The schools, up to five kilometers range from the IB, were shut.
“The schools along the IB in Jammu, Samba and Kathua were closed because of the firing and shelling by the Pakistani troops, divisional level officials said.
The officials said that the situation was very tense as the firing and shelling by Pakistan has been going on intermittently from across the border.
The schools, including government and private educational institutes, up to five kilometers range from the IB and LoC, have been shut.