Jammu, Jan 19: Pakistani and Indian troops traded heavy gunfire and shelling in Jammu and Kashmir on Friday, leaving at least two civilians and a Border Security Force (BSF) trooper dead amid increasing tensions between the two sides.
The fresh skirmishes have taken the total death toll to five since hostilities began since Wednesday.
Officials familiar with the development said at least six villagers were also injured when Pakistan Rangers opened fire at villages and military installations along the Arnia, RS Pura, Ramgarh and Hiranagar sub-sectors of Jammu, Samba and Kathua districts around 6.30 am.
Samba deputy commissioner Sheetal Nanda confirmed that the soldier, head constable Jagpal Singh of the BSF’s 176th battalion posted near the Chillyari border outpost in Samba sector, was killed in the military offensive. Singh hailed from Rajasthan.
As many as 23 people – including two BSF personnel – have been injured in enemy fire so far. The injured security personnel were identified as head constables Sat Paul Singh and Adarsh SS.
Two hundred and thirteen militants, 51 civilians died in militancy-related incidents last year, according to J&K?government.
Three hundred and twenty weapons, including 213 AK rifles, 101 pistols and revolvers, four RPGs, one each sniper rifle and 303 rifle were recovered in 2017.
On January 18, three civilians and a soldier died during gunfire in Kashmir.
According to Pakistan’s foreign ministry, Indian forces committed more than 1,900 ceasefire violations.
A BSF head constable, A Suresh, and a 17-year-old girl, Neelam, were initially killed when shelling by Pakistan forces began on the intervening night of Wednesday and Thursday. The other two civilians killed in the crossfire have been identified as Bachno Devi (50) and Sahil Kumar (25).
Seven civilians in Hiranagar, four in Samba and 12 in Jammu districts have been injured so far.
Meanwhile, reports of the Pakistan army shelling Indian posts along the line of control (LoC) in Jhangar area in Rajouri’s Nowshera sector emerged on Friday afternoon. “An alert was sounded after heavy shelling was reported there,” said Rajouri deputy commissioner Dr Shahid Iqbal Choudhary.
Schools in affected areas have been closed as a precautionary measure.
The Pakistan army had also resorted to heavy shelling in Balakote sector along the LoC in Poonch district around 10.15 pm on Thursday.
The flare-up along the international border, which has now extended up to the LoC in Jhangar area, originated from a sniping incident that occurred in Samba district on January 3. India had retaliated less than two weeks later, killing seven Pakistan soldiers at Jandrot in Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir on January 15.
BSF officials said they were retaliating to Pakistan shelling in Ramgarh sub-sector of Samba.

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