Women killed, nine including a school girl injured in Indian shelling in Neelum Valley

By: Jalaluddin Mughal

NEELUM VALLEY, December 31: Authorities Azad Jammu Kashmir (AJK) say Indian army opened fire Monday morning on civilian population in bordering Athmuqam town, killing a women and wounding nine others including a 6-years-old school girl and a lady police constable.

 
Raja Shahid, deputy commissioner of Neelum District, says in the recent ceasefire violation, Indian troops opened an “unprovoked” fire on densely populated bordering town of Athmuqam and adjacent areas. “Pakistani troops returned fire and both sides are still exchanging gunfire,” Shahid told in the late afternoon.
 
Abbas Mir, a school teacher said, “the window of my car shattered by the mortar shells and I saw people running towards underground bankers, leaving theirs shops and office open and unattended.”
 
“So far, volunteers have managed to bring around nine wounded people to the town’s main public hospital,” Akhter Ayoub, a rescue worker in the town, told this scribe further adding that those seriously injured, have been shifted to nearby army-run hospital.
 
Misbah Jameel 6, left for school this morning and ended-up in the hospital, sustaining serious injuries after mortar shell hit her forehead. She is currently under intensive care in hospital’s emergency room, Ateeq ur Rehman, an official at hospital said.
 
Women deceased has been identified as Asia Bibi 32, wife of Haroon while those injured besides Misba include Ansar Zafar, Kalsoom Shafqat, Zarmeen Bibi, lady constable Sadaf Zia, constable Malik Sajad, Constable Zulqarnain, Rafaqat Khan, Khawaja Amir Zafar.
 
A student told this scribe on telephone that hundreds of students remained stranded in town’s schools and colleges including some of her university fellows at the town’s only public university. “No one came to evacuate us for hours,” she added.
 
Eye witnesses told that the residents in the town-under-attack are fleeing to safer places.
 
The residents of picturesque Neelum Valley have seen the worst years between 1989 and 2003 when estranged India and Pakistan adopted a ceasefire agreement to pause a 14-years-long undeclared war at the Line of Control which divides Kashmir between neighboring atomic powers.

Jalaluddin Mughal is a journalist, filmmaker based in Neelum Valley/Islamabad and can be reached at jalaluddin.mughal@gmail.com. He twits @jalalmughal

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