ISLAMABAD/MUZAFFARABAD - Pakistan on Wednesday summoned a senior Indian diplomat to protest ceasefire violations and the killing of a civilian from Kashmir in cross-border shelling.

The civilian was killed in shelling by Indian troops near the Harpal sector of the Line of Control (LoC) – the region’s de facto border, the Pakistani foreign ministry said in a statement.

“The Indian Deputy High Commissioner was called in by the Director General (South Asia and SAARC) at the Foreign Office to lodge a strong protest against the unprovoked ceasefire violations by Indian troops at the Line of Control (LoC) in Harpal and other sectors,” said FO Spokesman Qazi Khalilullah. “The Indian firing resulted in the martyrdom of a civilian, Muhammad Shareef,” he said.

“Indian security forces also resorted to unprovoked firing in Jandrot, Nikhial and Karela Sectors of the LoC, as a result of which one more civilian embraced shahadat (martyrdom) and four others were injured,” he added. Pakistan expressed concern over continuous unprovoked ceasefire violations by Indian forces along the LoC and the Working Boundary. Pakistan urged India to immediately stop the violations and observe the 2003 Ceasefire Understanding to create peace and tranquillity.

Meanwhile, a man and a woman killed and six injured as India continued to bomb the border villages on Wednesday that also forced hundreds of residents flee their homes.

A 75-year old woman Noor Begum was killed when a mortar shell hit her home in Daheri Dabsi village in Nakial sector while Munshi Khan, 70, was killed in Lanjhot village neighbouring LoC.

“People have started vacating the area and we are trying to prevent massive exodus keeping in view the challenge of arrangements for displaced families” AJK Food Minister Javed Budhanvi told The Nation from Nakial.

He said all the schools have been closed in shelling hit areas and some 60,000 population has been affected. Budhanvi said government was trying to provide all assistance to masses trapped by Indian shelling from across LOC. “We are facing problems in reaching the affected areas due to heavy Indian shelling,” the minister said.

Earlier in August, Pakistan Army lodged a strong protest with the United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) over unprovoked firing by Indian troops along the working boundary at Sialkot’s Pukhlian sector. The army had launched a similar complaint with the UN body in July also, in relation to incidents of unprovoked firing by Indian forces at Sialkot’s Chaprar sector and in Rawalakot’s Neza Pir sector along the LoC.

For its part, India on last Sunday summoned Pakistan’s envoy in New Delhi to protest against the weekend killing of at least half a dozen civilians in border firings. On Tuesday, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged the nuclear-armed neighbours to show restraint following the recent escalation of violence.

Muslim-majority Kashmir has been divided between India and Pakistan, but claimed in full by both, since the two countries gained independence from Britain in 1947. They have fought two wars over the Himalayan region.

Since 1989 several rebel groups have been fighting hundreds of thousands of Indian forces deployed in the region, seeking independence or a merger of the territory with Pakistan.

A border ceasefire agreed in 2003 has largely held, with occasional violations reported from both sides. The fighting has left tens of thousands, mostly civilians, dead. Ceasefire violations along the LoC and working boundary between Pakistan and India continue intermittently, with casualties reported on both sides. Official sources say unprovoked firing by Indian troops on the working boundary has been continuing for the past many weeks.