India summons Pakistani chargé d’affaires to protest civilian deaths in LoC shelling

India on Saturday summoned Pakistan’s chargé d’affaires to lodge a strong protest over unprovoked ceasefire violations by Pakistani troops along the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir, saying the firing was aimed at supporting cross-border infiltration by terrorists.

Aftab Hassan Khan, the acting head of the Pakistan high commission, was summoned by the external affairs ministry a day after the ceasefire violations by Pakistani troops triggered an intense exchange of fire. Nine Indians, including four civilians and five security personnel, were killed while the retaliatory shelling killed at least eight Pakistani soldiers and injured a dozen more.

A strong protest was lodged with the Pakistani charge d’affaires over unprovoked ceasefire violations by Pakistani forces in multiple sectors along the LoC in Jammu and Kashmir on Friday, resulting in the “death of four innocent civilians and serious injuries to 19 others”, the external affairs ministry said in a statement.

“India condemns, in the strongest terms, the deliberate targeting of innocent civilians by Pakistani forces,” the statement said.

“It is highly deplorable that Pakistan chose a festive occasion in India to disrupt peace and perpetrate violence in Jammu and Kashmir through coordinated firing along the length of the LoC using heavy caliber weapons, including artillery and mortar on Indian civilians,” it added, referring to the festival of Diwali.

India also strongly protested “Pakistan’s continued support to cross-border terrorist infiltration into India, including through supporting cover fire provided by Pakistan forces”, the statement said.

The Indian side reminded Pakistan of its bilateral commitment to not allow any territory under its control to be used for terrorism against India in any manner.

On Saturday, an uneasy calm settled along the LoC in Uri and Gurez sectors after the heavy shelling by the two sides across the de facto border. Following the unprovoked firing by Pakistani forces, the Indian Army had retaliated with artillery guns and anti-tank guided missiles.

Pakistani ammunition and fuel dumps and terror launch pads were among the targets destroyed by the Indian shelling, officials said.

The heavy exchange of fire on the eve of Diwali turned the spotlight on the LoC at a time when Indian and Chinese forces are locked in a standoff along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladakh.

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