In yet another incident of ceasefire violation, Indian troops martyred a woman and injured nine others, including two police constables, in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) on Monday when they opened fire across the Line of Control (LoC).
Reportedly, the target was the entire one-kilometre radius of Athmuqam, the district headquarters of Neelum Valley which is located 80 kilometres northeast of Muzzafarabad and is overlooked by Indian gun positions on top of mountains. In videos of the attack being shared on social media, people can be seen running for shelter amid shelling. Many people took shelter in a hospital building because of the absence of bunkers.
When the shelling ended after an hour, the body of a 27-year-old woman identified as Asiya Bibi was found outside her home. She was hit in the head by shrapnel from a mortar shell. Nine others were injured. The injured were identified as Sadaf Zia, 16, Misbah Jameel, 8, Kulsoom Shafqat, 18, Zarmeen Bibi, 20, Ansar Bibi, 35, and her son Khawaja Amir, 20, Rafaqat Khan, 35, and police constables Raja Zulqarnain, 36, and Malik Sajjad, 33. The injured were given medical treatment are reportedly out of danger.
The 200km-long Neelum Valley had long faced the brunt of heavy cross-border shelling between the rival troops until a truce agreement in November 2003 brought much-needed relief to its inhabitants. Over the past 15 years, while the truce agreement saw numerous violations elsewhere causing several civilian casualties, the Neelum Valley remained an exception as Indian troops never directly hit its civilian population even during the days of heightened tensions. But in late 2016, a famous tourist rest house located a few kilometres ahead of Athmuqam was shelled by Indian troops on October 29 followed by shelling on a passenger coach on November 23 that had left more than 10 people dead and several others wounded. On July 16, 2017, a Pakistan Army vehicle was hit by Indian troops, leaving four soldiers martyred. The LoC in the Neelum Valley, however, had since been calm and quiet, until October 30 this year, when Indian troops had fired a few mortar shells.