Pakistani troops allegedly resorted to heavy firing and mortar shelling along the Line of Control in Poonch district of Jammu and Kashmir on Saturday, The Indian Express reported. The Indian Army and the police have begun rescue operations, but students were reportedly trapped inside nearly half a dozen schools.

The shelling started around 9.45 am on Saturday and affected nearly 50 to 60 villages along the entire 50 km border stretch from Balnoi near Mankote sector to Tarkundi. Residents claimed that Pakistani troops targeted the civilians living along the Line of Control.

“We have shifted the students to a room and have asked them to take cover behind one of the walls,” a Government High School teacher told The Indian Express. “At least half a dozen mortar shells have fallen within 50 metres radius of the school building.”

Residents said the other educational institutions that were affected included the Government Middle School, Behrote, and Primary School, Lanjiyote.

Poonch Deputy Commissioner Rahul Yadav confirmed to the newspaper that five to six schools in Balakote area were affected by the intense mortar shelling and small arms fire. “The schools began classes at 8 am and the children and staff got trapped as the Pakistani shelling started much later,” Yadav said. “The administration will launch rescue operations once the shelling stops.”

He also added that there were no reports of any casualty because of the shelling, and said border residents have been advised to take necessary precautionary measures for their safety, PTI reported.

This came days after the Indian Army had warned that Pakistan had stepped up attempts to push as many terrorists as possible into Jammu and Kashmir.

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