VARIOUS: CIVILIANS LIVING BEHIND LINE OF CONTROL FLEE KASHMIR BORDER AREAS AFTER INTENSE FIRING
- Title: VARIOUS: CIVILIANS LIVING BEHIND LINE OF CONTROL FLEE KASHMIR BORDER AREAS AFTER INTENSE FIRING
- Date: 5th June 2002
- Summary: (U4) KHOIRATTA TOWN, KOTLI SECTOR, PAKISTAN ADMINISTERED KASHMIR (JUNE 3, 2002) (REUTERS) SLV STREET / MARKET PLACE (2 SHOTS) SLV HOUSE DAMAGED BY INDIAN SHELLING; DAMAGED EXTERIOR OF HOUSE; MV TWO MEN RETRIEVING BROKEN DOORS OF HOUSE; LAS CEILING OF HOUSE / SCU DAMAGED WALLS; SCU LARGE HOLE IN WALL (5 SHOTS) MV PEOPLE ENTERING HOUSE THROUGH HOLE IN WALL; SCU SMASHED CROCKERY SLV EXTERIOR DISTRICT HEADQUARTERS HOSPITAL; MV WOUNDED MEN ON HOSPITAL BEDS; SCU NURSE ATTENDING TO ELDERLY WOUNDED MAN; SCU ELDERLY MAN'S FACE / BLOODSTAINED SHEET; SCU MAN WITH STOMACH WOUNDS LYING ON HOSPITAL BED (5 SHOTS) (SOUNDBITE) (Urdu) ASIM KHAN, WOUNDED SHOPKEEPER, SAYING "We were working in our shop when the Indians started shelling. A colleague of ours, Mohammad Maqsood, was killed; my brother and I got injured." MV WOUNDED GIRL WITH MOTHER / ANOTHER WOUNDED GIRL IN ADJACENT BED
- Reuters ID: LVAZ8APQTSVGH10AO6EXPKPXUPL
- Location: LINE OF CONTROL / NEW DELHI, INDIA / GAKHRIAL VILLAGE, AKHNOOR, INDIAN ADMINISTERED KASHMIR / KHOIRATTA TOWN, KOTLI SECTOR, PAKISTAN ADMINISTERED KASHMIR
- Country: Pakistan India
- Duration: 00:01:25
- Topics: War / Fighting
- Story Text: Many civilians living behind the 'Line of Control' have fled the border areas after intense firing along the ceasefire line that divides the Himalayan territory of Kashmir into its Indian and Pakistani-administered entities.
Meanwhile, in New Delhi, foreigners have continued to leave the Indian capital amid fears of a war between the nuclear capable neighbours.
Pakistan and Indian forces exchanged mortar and machinegun fire on Tuesday (June 4), forcing villagers to flee, as fighting intensified along their borders where a million troops from both countries are poised for war.
The two sides shelled each other as the leaders of India and Pakistan attended a regional summit in Kazakhstan, but showed no sign of modifying positions that have brought the nuclear-armed rivals to the brink of war.
Gakhrial village in the Akhnoor sector of Indian administered Kashmir appeared almost deserted on Tuesday as most residents have left the village for safer areas.
Swardu, a resident of Gakhrial described the dangers that await those who have decided to remain in the village.
"If we sit outside then a shell from Pakistan will kill all of us," he said.
"We have sent our family to safer places. We cannot leave as we have to take care of our cattle and our house. What to do? We are forced to stay here," added Swardu.
Indian and Pakistani troops have traded artillery or mortar fire somewhere along their long border almost every day in recent weeks.
A Pakistani military statement on Monday (June 3) night said "indiscriminate firing and unprovoked shelling" by Indian troops across the tense disputed border in Kashmir had killed six civilians and wounded 11, including three women and a child.
Pakistani troops hit Indian military installations in retaliatory firing across the military 'Line of Control' (LOC) that divides the Himalayan region, killing and wounding at least 35 soldiers, the statement said.
It was the largest figure of Indian army casualties that the Pakistani military gave for one day of their clashes since the present military standoff between the two nuclear rivals began last December.
The Pakistani statement said the Indian army "targeted civilian population with automatic weapons, medium and field artillery, mortars and rocket launchers" in Neelum Valley and Rawalakot and Kotli sectors in Pakistan-ruled Kashmir.
The injured were taken to a nearby hospital for medical treatment.
One of the injured men told Reuters Television that a colleague of his had been killed as they worked in their shop.
"We were working in our shop when the Indians started shelling. A colleague of ours, Mohammad Maqsood, was killed; my brother and I got injured," said Asim Khan, from his bed in District Headquarters Hospital in Kotli.
Pakistan's army says Indian shelling is increasingly aimed at civilian targets. It says more than 20 civilians have "embraced shahadat (martyrdom)" since the middle of May and over 70 others have been injured as a result.
Pakistan on Monday called for United Nations (U.N.) monitors to verify Indian charges that separatist guerrillas are infiltrating into Kashmir as the nuclear-armed foes come under growing pressure to defuse a military confrontation.
India blames bloody attacks on its parliament last December and on an army camp in Kashmir in May on Islamic militants based in Pakistan.
It says militants enter India across the 'Line of Control' separating Indian and Pakistan territory in Kashmir.
Pakistan denies supporting the militants and has vowed to crack down on the cross-border incursions.
Leaders around the world are trying to prevent a further escalation of the standoff in Kashmir, already the cause of two of the three wars the countries have fought since independence from Britain in 1947.
This time there are fears the conflict could spill into nuclear war.
India is estimated to have 100 to 150 nuclear warheads and Pakistan 25 to 50. Last month, Pakistan tested missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads deep into India.
More foreigners left New Delhi on Tuesday following the advice of their governments.
Last Friday (May 31), the United States, Britain, Canada and at least a dozen other nations told their citizens to leave, worried the conflict could escalate. They also cut their embassy staff to essential personnel.
But several of the foreigners leaving from the airport in New Delhi felt the situation would not escalate.
"We are going back to the States on a business trip and we will be returning at the end of the month unless the company indicates to us that we are not allowed to return. But, otherwise we don't feel that it will escalate in Delhi. It may at the border but we are not leaving for any other reason other than business," said Jill Porak, a businesswoman from the United States.
One passenger viewed the current situation in South Asia as the most serious he has witnessed in recent years.
"I think it's the most dangerous it's been in as many years that I have been coming to India, these 20 years. I think there is a very real threat of war and I think we are keeping a close eye on things," said Mark Robinson, a British national.
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