Islamabad: Four soldiers killed in ambush along LoC
ISLAMABAD: Four Pakistani soldiers were killed in an encounter with ‘unknown miscreants’ in the Hajira sector, close to the Line of Control, on Thursday, Inter Services Public Relations said. “This afternoon an army patrol came under heavy fire from miscreants hiding in thick forest in Batal Area of Hajira Sector, as a result of which two soldiers died on spot, while another two succumbed to their injuries subsequently,” an ISPR official told Dawn by telephone.
Sources said the army patrol had challenged the miscreants, who retaliated with heavy fire. The army later sent reinforcements to deal with the situation. Officials said the encounter continued late into the evening. The identity of the miscreants was not known. This was the most serious incident involving Pakistani troops since Islamabad and Delhi agreed to a ceasefire along the LoC in 2003. The ceasefire has largely held. The ISPR official emphasised that the incident took place on the Pakistan side of the LoC and no violation had occurred. “There was no firing from the Indian troops,” the official said.
The unmarked Line of Control was the scene of regular skirmishes and artillery duels between Indian and Pakistani troops, causing daily casualties, mostly of the civilians, until both sides struck a ceasefire in November 2003. Eversince the truce is holding with the exception of a few violations by the Indian army in which some civilian casualties had occurred on the AJK side.
The incident occurred almost a week ahead of Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi’s first trip to New Delhi, on June 27. Moreover, next week Pakistani and Indian officials are set to resume their anti-terror talks in Islamabad. A couple of incidents along the LoC occurred last month ahead of meeting between Mr Qureshi and his Indian counterpart, Mr Pranab Mukherjee. In one of those incidents in the Poonch Sector, an Indian soldier was killed. India had accused Pakistan of violating the 2003 LoC ceasefire, but Pakistan denied it.