At least 11 people were killed in India's counter assault after the outraged Indian Army warned of heavy retribution as one of its soldiers was killed and his body mutilated by terrorists camped along the Line of Control in Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir (PoK).
Waheed Khan, a Pakistani official, confirmed on Wednesday that those killed also included nine travelling in a passenger bus as the artillery shell hit the bus in the Neelum Valley. Two others were killed in the Nakyal sector of the PoK.
Earlier, the Indian Army on Wednesday launched a massive counter assault along the Line of Control (LoC) after the suspected Pakistan Border Action Team (BAT) killed three Indian soldiers, beheading the body of one.
Shocked and outraged by the incident, the Indian Army vowed "heavy retribution" for the heinous act. "Retribution will be heavy for this cowardly act," the army said in a statement.
Reports state that the counter-infiltration patrol along the LoC in north Kashmir was ambushed by Pakistan army's BAT team at Machhal sector of Kupwara district on Tuesday, which resulted in loss of the three lives.
"The attackers who were hiding in the area first ambushed the patrol killing three soldiers. Later they badly mutilated the body of one of the soldiers before fleeing back to POK," an officer said.
Fire assaults have been reportedly launched along the LoC in border areas, including Poonch, Rajouri and Kel, the army said.
The slain soldiers were identified as Gunner Manoj Kumar of Uttar Pradesh, Rifleman Prabhu Singh of Rajasthan and Rifleman Shashank K Singh of Uttar Pradesh, all of them belonging to the 57 Rashtriya Rifles.
Soon after the incident, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar was briefed by Vice Chief of Army Lt Gen Bipin Rawat on the killings of soldiers.
This is the second time in less than a month that the body of an Indian soldier was mutilated along the LoC. Just three weeks earlier, Sepoy Mandeep Singh was beheaded by militants near the same area. Reports state that one of the militants was killed by the soldiers, but the other one fled back to Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK).