Hundreds of people have been evacuated in the Indian-administered Kashmir region after escalation in cross-border fighting between India and Pakistan. Scores of schools located in the de facto border known as the Line of Control (LoC) have been shut due to the latest shelling.
Both the Pakistani and Indian armies confirmed that shelling is going on in the sensitive border area but blamed each for the situation. The Pakistani firing, which continued for the second consecutive day on Sunday, 14 May, has caused heavy damage to buildings forcing local authorities to order the evacuation.
"The Pakistani army has resorted to indiscriminate firing of small arms, 82mm and 120mm mortars from 0645 hours along the Line of Control in Rajouri sector. The Indian army posts are retaliating strong and effectively. The firing is presently on," an Indian defence ministry spokesperson told the Press Trust of India news agency.
Local authorities have set up makeshift relief camps where hundreds of evacuees are taking shelter. "The district administration, in coordination with other departments, is providing proper accommodation, food, cooking facility, drinking water, sanitation, first aid and other basic amenities in the relief camps," senior government official Shahid Iqbal Choudhary told a local daily.
Vehicles and ambulances are being deployed to ferry people from volatile border villages to the camps. Staff from various government departments have been drafted to assist in the evacuation.
Casualties have been reported from both sides but the exact toll is not known. At least two deaths and three injuries were reported from the Indian side.
Pakistan said 13 people, including many women and a toddler, were injured in firing by Indian troops.
"The Indian army has been targeting innocent civilians on both sides of the LoC in the recent past. Any misadventure by the Indian army across the LoC will be a miscalculation, shall be responded with full force and could lead to unintended consequences," the Pakistani army's Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said.