SIALKOT/ RAWALPINDI - The Indian Border Security Force (BSF) troops on Monday started unprovoked shelling along the Working Boundary in Sialkot’s Zafarwal and Shakargarh sectors , killing four Pakistani civilians, the Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) said in a statement.

According to an earlier ISPR statement, two civilians, including a woman and an 18-year-old boy, were killed as a result of the BSF firing. “Two more civilians embraced martyrdom due to Indian unprovoked firing and shelling,” the Pakistani military’s media wing later said.

Azeem, 18, from Bhure Chak, and a woman, Ms Mubarak Ali of Sukhmal village, were among those who embraced martyrdom as a result of the unprovoked shelling, according to the ISPR statement. A Chenab Rangers official and a civilian were also injured in the firing, the ISPR stated. It said that the Indian BSF resorted to a planned unprovoked firing in Zafarwal and Shakargarh sectors .

This is the 6th time since December 31 that Indian troops resorted to firing with heavy weapons, targeting civil population of Pakistan.

Sources said the Indian Border Security Force (BSF) personnel who were stationed at the Karole Karishna and Pansar posts in India targeted Thakarpur and Karole posts in the Pakistani side.

The Chenab Rangers retaliated effectively in a befitting manner, silencing the Indian guns and inflicting heavy losses on the BSF. According to sources, five Indian troops were also killed in exchange of fire which continued until the filing of this report.

The Indian BSF resorted to unprovoked intensified shelling on Chak Nehala, Jagwal, Dhunder, Sakmaal, Bheka Chak, Nugal and Gor Pagwal villages in Zafarwal and Shakargarh sectors of Sialkot Working Boundary during the whole night between Saturday and Sunday, intermittently.

According to senior officials of the Chenab Rangers, the BSF also fired dozens of heavy mortar shells, targeting the civilian population and damaging dozens of houses.

The BSF has been targeting the civilian population in Sialkot border villages, violating the ceasefire accord, especially for the last two consecutive years.

In December last year, the two countries pledged to uphold the 2003 ceasefire accord which was left in tatters by repeated violations by India. The truce breaches put the nascent bilateral peace dialogue on hold.

The Himalayan territory of Kashmir which is the main contention between the two countries was divided between India and Pakistan by the UN-monitored de facto border of the Line of Control (LoC). Kashmiris are struggling for their right to self-determination while Pakistan supports their genuine demand for plebiscite in the light of the UN resolutions. The South Asian rivals that have fought two wars over Muslim-majority Kashmir have traded blames for the upsurge in firing and shelling which started in early October.

Tension between the nuclear-armed neighbours escalated last week when an Indian border guard and two Pakistani paramilitary soldiers were killed during exchange of heavy fire in the same area.

Heavy shelling by both the countries’ militaries on Saturday left one woman dead and 10 other civilians injured on the Indian side while a teenage girl was killed on the Pakistan side.

Two Indian soldiers were also killed earlier that day as Pakistani rangers fired rocket-propelled grenades in a forested area.

Recent exchanges of fire across the de facto border, known as the Line of Control (LoC), have killed more than two dozen civilians and forced thousands to flee their homes on both the sides.

India called off peace talks in August after Pakistan consulted Kashmiri leaders, a move seen as part of a tougher line towards Islamabad by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s nationalist government.