Mortar Shell Kills 5 Members of a Family in Kashmir

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Five members of a family were killed Sunday during cross-border shelling between Indian and Pakistani forces in Kashmir. Two other members of the family, including a 14-year-old girl, above, were wounded.CreditChanni Anand/Associated Press

BySameer Yasir

Mortar Shell Kills 5 Members of a Family in Kashmir
Mortar Shell Kills 5 Members of a Family in Kashmir

March 18, 2018

SRINAGAR, Kashmir — Five members of a family were killed and two others were wounded by shelling in the Indian-controlled portion of Kashmir on Sunday, residents and officials said.

Over the weekend, India and Pakistan were engaged in cross-border shelling along the Line of Control, which divides Kashmir between the two countries. Indian officials said Pakistani troops had fired a mortar shell that hit the family’s home.

A couple and their children were gathered for breakfast on Sunday morning when the shell tore through the roof of their home in the southern Poonch region of Kashmir.

“When we heard the blasts, we ran for our lives,” Ghulam Nissar Khan, a neighbor, said by telephone. “After the hue and cry fizzled out, we rushed to the house and found the bodies.”

Choudhary Mohammad Ramzan, 45, and Malka Bi, 45, and their sons — Muhammad Rehman, 19, Muhammad Rizwan, 18, and Muhammad Razaq, 8 — were all killed.

Tariq Ahmad Zargar, a deputy commissioner in Poonch, said by telephone that the couple’s daughters, Nooren, 14, and Marin, 7, were wounded. They were airlifted to the city of Jammu for treatment.

At least five Indian soldiers were wounded in a separate episode in the same area, Indian officials said.

Pakistan said 10 civilians on the Pakistani-controlled side had been wounded in shelling by Indian troops.

Kashmir has endured brutal conflict for decades as the subject of a territorial dispute between India, which controls much of the territory, and Pakistan. Fighting has worsened since India accused a Pakistan-based militant organization of carrying out a deadly attack last month on its base in Jammu that left 10 people dead.

For almost every week since then, the two sides have accused each other of violating a 2003 cease-fire agreement with unprovoked gunfire and the killing of civilians and soldiers. Diplomatic relations have been strained. Last week, Pakistan recalled its envoy to India, saying that Pakistani diplomats and their families were being harassed by Indian security agencies.

Despite the cease-fire agreement — which ensured some peace for those living along the tense Line of Control, which stretches about 465 miles and splits Kashmir into two — many residents live in fear.

Last month, more than 5,000 civilians were forced to abandon their homes after Indian and Pakistani troops started shelling each other’s locations across the Line of Control. People in shelter camps have refused to go back to their homes until the fighting stops.

Mehbooba Mufti, the chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir State, expressed anguish over the loss of lives and emphasized the need for peace in the area. “My deepest condolences to their family,” she wrote on Twitter.

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