200 school kids evacuated in bullet-proof vehicles after Pakistan firing on LoC

Jammu: Children in at least three schools along the Line of Control (LoC) in the Nowshera sector of Rajouri district were trapped on Tuesday as the Pakistan army pounded Indian posts and forward villages along the de-facto border in neighboring Poonch, prompting India to retaliate in equal measure.
SSP Rajouri, Yougal Manhas told HT over phone that nearly 200 children had to be evacuated to safety in bullet proof vehicles in Nowshera sector of Rajouri district.
“Heavy shelling was reported in Bhawani, Sair and Kadali villages of Nowshera sector. Even now (5.45 pm), intense shelling is on. At least 11 students were trapped in middle school Sair and nearly 50 students at high school Sair and around 150 in high school Bhawani,” he said, adding that there was another school where children had to be kept inside because of the shelling.
Rajouri deputy commissioner Shahid Iqbal Choudhary rushed to Bhawani to take stock of the situation and evacuation.
The children were ferried from the school in bullet proof vehicles during the intermittent shelling by Pakistan, Choudhary said.
“We have sent three bullet proof vehicles to evacuate the students from a high school at Sehar. Once the intensity of shelling lessens, we will rescue them too”, Choudhary said.
Schools in 23 villages close to the LoC have been closed indefinitely and 3,500 people have been moved to relief camps, he said, adding that close to 5,000 people have been affected by the shelling.
The district administration had sought the army’s help to evacuate the small children. ”Field officers have been deputed for coordination,” Choudhary said.
A soldier reportedly sustained injuries in the exchange of fire in Mendhar sector of Poonch district, but the army has not confirmed it yet.
Defence spokesperson Lt Col Manish Mehta said on Tuesday morning, there was unprovoked ceasefire violation by Pakistan in Bhimber Gali and Poonch sectors from 6.45 am. Around 1.50 pm, Pakistani troops opened fire, including mortars, in Nowshera sector of Rajouri district.
On July 17, Pakistani army had violated the ceasefire in Balakote and Poonch sectors, killing a minor girl and a soldier besides injuring four others.
Pakistani forces have also violated the ceasefire in the Manjakote sector.
Around 5,000 people in the villages of Panjgrain, Rajdhani, and Naika in Rajouri district were affected due to truce violations.
In Rajouri, 16 schools close to LoC have been shut indefinitely. The district administration has ordered migration of the civilian population to safer places.
In a post on its website, the Pakistani army’s publicity wing, ISPR said Pakistani Army DGMO Major General Sahir Shamshad Mirza, in a hotline contact, lodged its protest against the “deliberate targeting of Pakistan Army’s vehicle resulting into Shahadat (death) of 4 soldiers besides injuring one soldier and a civilian passer-by.”
It emphasized the importance of controlling tactical actions, warning that such indiscretions can potentially spiral major standoffs.

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