NEW DELHI: The Indian Army on Friday used artillery guns to target terror launch pads and ammunition dumps in the Keran sector of Kupwara along the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir, which was site of a fierce gun-battle between Indian Special Forces and infiltrating terrorists last Sunday.

The Army launched “targeted fire assaults” in retaliation to “unprovoked artillery shelling” by the Pakistan Army in the area on Friday morning. The heavy exchange of fire between the rival forces led to widespread panic among the civilian population in five locations in the area.

At least one terror launch pad, among other targets, was apparently “completely destroyed” in the firing by the Indian Army, which used 105mm field guns as well as 155mm Bofors howitzers. “Our troops retaliated effectively and strongly. Precision targeting of terrorist launch pads, gun areas and ammunition dumps was carried out. There are reports of heavy damage on the Pakistani side. There was no casualty on our side,” said an officer.

Five heavily-armed terrorists had been killed in an extremely close-quarter combat by a squad of 4 Para-SF battalion after they were air-dropped by helicopters in the snow-bound heights in the Keran sector on Sunday. Five Para-SF commandos, unfortunately, also laid down their lives in the encounter.

As was earlier reported by TOI, amidst the coronavirus pandemic ranging in the two countries, India and Pakistan continue to exchange heavy fire all along the volatile 778-km long LoC, which has already recorded over 1,200 ceasefire violations (CFVs) this year.

India recorded as many as 3,479 CFVs and firings across the LoC and the 198-km international border in J&K in 2019, smashing all annual records since 2003.

There has been no let-up this year with 367 CFVs being recorded in January, 382 in February and 411 in March. In the corresponding January-March timeframe last year, the number stood at 685.

The number of CFVs escalated after the Modi government revoked the special status of J&K on August 5 last year and then split the state into two union territories. “The upward trend in ceasefire violations has continued since then, though there has been a general decline in terrorist violence in the hinterland. With the snow in the mountain passes melting now, there has also been a spike in infiltration attempts,” said another officer.