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Damaged Pakistani military posts in punitive fire assault: India

Eight months after the surgical strikes on terror-launch pads, the Indian Army on Tuesday said it damaged several Pakistani military posts with heavy artillery firing in a "very recent" punitive assault along LoC in Jammu and Kashmir as part of its pre-emptive and pro-active strategy to curb cross-border militant incursion.

The army also released an undated video that showed some military posts in a forested area being bombed with heavy artillery fire, and smoke and flames billowing after the explosions.

The Pakistan Army, however, dismissed the claim of the assault along the Line of Control in the Naushera border sector of Rajouri district.

Backing the army's strategy, Defence Minister Arun Jaitley said the government supported the action to counter terrorism in the valley "to ensure peace in Jammu and Kashmir".

"The Indian Army is taking preemptive and measured actions to counter terrorism in the valley and disengage Pakistan (military) posts across the LoC supporting terrorism."

The operation was to give "a befitting reply to the Pakistan military which aids infiltration into the Indian side", Army spokesperson Maj. Gen. Ashok Narula told reporters outside the Defence Ministry.

"The Pakistan Army has been providing support to armed infiltrators by engaging our forward troops from their weapons emplacements and pill-boxes closer to the Line of Control," the official said.

"A recent action by our troops in the Naushera sector has caused some damage to Pakistan Army posts. This is part of our overall strategy to counter terrorism."

Asked when the assault took place, Maj. Gen. Narula said it was a "recent, very recent" operation.

He said the army has been undertaking the "punitive fire assaults across the LoC" to stop militants from crossing over under Pakistani cover fire.

Militant infiltration from across the border is likely to increase with the onset of the summer as melting of snow starts to open up the traditional routes of incursion.

Maj. Gen. Narula said the Pakistan Army would not even hesitate to target civilians to aid militants.

"At times, they (the Pakistan Army) have not even hesitated to target villages in the proximity of the LoC."

But Pakistan Army Spokesman Major General Asif Ghafoor said the "Indian claims of destroying Pakistani post in Naushera and firing by the Pakistan Army on civilians across LoC are false".

The assault comes eight months after India said its army had conducted surgical strikes to destroy terror-launch pads across the LoC in Pakistan that resulted in the killing of dozens of militants and their sympathisers in September.

Maj. Gen. Narula said the Indian Army "pro-actively dominates the LoC" to ensure that infiltration "is curbed and initiative remains with us".

"While doing so, locations aiding infiltration of terrorists are being targeted and destroyed to deny advantage to terrorists thus curbing infiltration attempts."

He said the Indian Army wanted peace in Jammu and Kashmir for which bringing down the number of militants in the state and controlling infiltration were "essential".

"Operations like the one at Naugam (sector in north Kashmir) on May 20-23, where four terrorists were neutralised, call for even more proactive counter-terrorism operations," the officer said about the action by the army that also left some Pakistan posts damaged.

The LoC gun battle lasted more than 24 hours and left seven people, including three soldiers, dead.
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