SRINAGAR: Five civilians have been killed and as many were wounded in fresh firing by Pakistani forces amid war-like situation along the International Border in Jammu, prompting the civilian population in thousands to migrate to safer places.

Following the fresh escalation, the state government has ordered schools in the border areas including Hiranagar, Samba, Kathua, Arnia and RS Pura areas of Jammu division, which were pounded with mortars and small arms throughout the night, to remain shut today.

Officials in Jammu said the Pakistani forces targeted residential houses belonging to the civilian population and at least 40 outposts of the Border Security Force along the working border with India for the third straight day, resulting in heavy casualties.

“Pakistan Rangers indulged in heavy and indiscriminate shelling of mortar bombs and firing of small arms and automatic weapons on Tuesday night, targeting villages in the Ramgarh and Samba sectors which was retaliated by the BSF," a police officer in Jammu said.

Among the deceased civilians are Rampal Sharma, 55, a resident of Londhi Hiranagar and Raghuveer Singh, 50, of Satowali RS Pura. The identity of the other deceased is being ascertained amid fresh tensions that has prompted migration of civilians from the affected areas.

“Over 40,000 residents have been impacted by the heavy firing since the last three days and thousands have already migrated to safer places. The district administration has been pressed into action to make arrangements for them,” a senior government officer in Jammu told The Citizen.

The escalation comes days after four civilians and a BSF constable were killed on this side of the border in Jammu region on May 19 while Pakistan claimed Indian forces killed six civilians including two children on the same day along the border of that country.

The armies of the two sides had met recently to discuss ways of defusing tensions along the border which has taken immense toll on civilian population but it seems no headway has been made as heavy machine guns continue to do the talking.

Following the demand of the state government, New Delhi recently announced a unilateral ceasefire in the state coinciding with the holy month of Ramazan but the union home minister Rajnath Singh said the forces have been asked to give “befitting reply” if provoked.

The ceasefire has brought some calm in the tense valley where operations against militants by security forces resulted in heavy casualties of civilians, sparking protests and calls for shutdown that have kept the region on the edge since the killing of Hizb commander Burhan Wani in 2016.

Meanwhile, ten civilians, including a minor, suffered injuries when unknown persons hurled a grenade towards an army vehicle in south Kashmir’s Bijbehara area today morning. “The grenade missed the target and exploded on the roadside, resulting in injuries to ten persons,” a senior police officer said.