At least 10 children were injured, three of them seriously, when Indian troops opened fire on a school van in Azad Jammu and Kashmir along the Line of Control (LoC) on Friday, Assistant Commissioner Zeeshan Khan said.
The driver of the van, carrying 20 students of a private school, died on the spot as the vehicle came under attack in Nakyal sector of Kotli district.
“A shell fired by Indian troops hit a school van at LoC in Nakyal sector,” Zeeshan Haider, a senior government official told AFP.
The Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) in a statement confirmed that a civilian was killed and four school children injured “when Indian troops violating ceasefire sanctity” targeted the school van.
“Pakistani troops effectively responded and targeted Indian posts from where fire was coming,” the ISPR added.
The injured children are between the age of eight and 15 years, AC Zeeshan said.
The injured children were transferred to District Headquarters Hospital Kotli. Three amongst the injured were reported to be in critical condition and will be transferred to Islamabad for treatment.
Muhammad Nasrullah Khan, a doctor in Nakyal hospital told AFP that the children had shrapnel injuries but their condition was not life threatening.
The latest cross-border firing has come after a calm of over two weeks at the LoC. On Nov 23, nine people were killed when Indian troops targeted a passenger bus in AJK’s Lawat area.
FO lodges protest with India
The Foreign Office’s Director General for South Asia and Saarc Dr Mohammad Faisal on Friday summoned Indian Deputy High Commissioner JP Singh to strongly condemn the attack on the school van by Indian troops.
He said the attack is in violation of international human rights and humanitarian laws.
The director general urged the Indian side to respect the 2003 ceasefire agreement and investigate this morning’s incident and other incidents of ceasefire violations.
Cross-border firing a new normal
Tensions between Pakistan and India have been running high following an alleged ‘surgical strike’, unrest in Kashmir and the Uri army base attack in September.
Since then there have been repeated outbreaks of cross-border firing in Kashmir, with both sides reporting deaths and injuries including of civilians.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi stepped up a drive to isolate Pakistan diplomatically after the Uri army base attack in which 19 Indian soldiers were killed. Hours after the attack occurred, Indian Home Minister Rajnath Singh termed Pakistan a ‘terrorist state’ and accused Pakistan of involvement.
The Uri attack occurred days before Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was set to address the United Nations General Assembly regarding Indian human rights violations in held Kashmir.
Following the attack, India claimed it had conducted a cross-border ‘surgical strike’ against ‘launch pads of terror’ in Azad Jammu and Kashmir — a claim Pakistan has strongly rejected.
Pakistan maintains that India is attempting to divert the world’s attention away from atrocities committed by government forces in India-held Kashmir.
Pakistan and India have, most recently, locked horns over Kashmir since Indian forces stepped up a crackdown against protesters after Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani was killed by government forces in July.
SOURCE : AFP