Srinagar, Indian-administered Kashmir – Hundreds of residents have fled their homes along the border following an escalation of cross-border attacks between India and Pakistan.
Nasir Ahmad Naqash, deputy commissioner of northern Baramulla district, told Al Jazeera ceasefire violations have intensified in Uri sector first time in 15 years, as the area has been largely peaceful since the 2003 truce signed by the nuclear-armed South Asian rivals.
“More than 1,000 villagers have fled their homes due to the shelling. Many people have been provided shelter in the campus by the government while others have gone to live with their relatives,” Naqash said.
Nazir Ahmad, 40, a resident of Churunda village, 120km from the main city of Srinagar, fled his home on Saturday and is living in a state-run higher secondary school with his family in Uri town.
“On Saturday, we heard the announcement from the other side asking civilians to shift to safer places. It panicked everyone and most of the villagers left their homes. This is for the first time in many years that the shelling has intensified,” he told Al Jazeera.
Ghulam Nabi, a resident of Silikot, another affected village in Uri sector, demanded that civilians living in the line of fire be moved to safety.
“We appeal government to provide us land in some safer places. We don’t want to live among the shells and bullets that have put our lives in danger,” he said.
Residents said Churunda, Silikot, and Tilawari villages along the border have been most affected by the latest violence.
Tensions between India and Pakistan intensified after an attack on an army base in Sunjuwan area in Jammu city.
In the attack, that took place earlier this month, seven soldiers were killed as India blamed Pakistan for the assault.
Following the attack, Indian defence minister, Nirmala Sitharaman, warnedPakistan it “will pay” for its “misadventure”.
The deadly cross-border shelling continues intermittently since the beginning of this year, displacing hundreds of residents.
Officials say more than 15 people have been killed since January on the Indian side, including civilians, besides damage to houses and livestock.
The 2003 ceasefire agreement between the two archrivals is in tatters as nearly 100 people, including security forces, have been killed in the past three years on the Indian side.
Border areas in Jammu were calm on Sunday but officials said uncertainty meant people feared returning to their homes.
“The ceasefire violations continue since May last year, but there was a sudden rise from January this year… More than 600 people continue to remain in camps due to the fear,” Shahid Iqbal Chowdhary, a senior administration official, from border town Rajouri told Al Jazeera.
The two countries continue to accuse each other of the ceasefire violations and killings.
Muhammad Faisal, Pakistan’s Foreign Office spokesman, said in a statement the Indian army killed a civilian and injured three others in Nikial sector in Pakistan-administered Kashmir.
Pakistan has accused India of killing 18 people in border skirmishes this year.
Despite a 2003 ceasefire, India and Pakistan regularly trade fire across the so-called Line of Control (LoC), the military demarcation between the Indian and Pakistani controlled parts of Kashmir.
India regularly accuses Pakistan of aiding fighters in crossing the LoC to attack Indian positions. Pakistan denies the allegations.