Formerly considered "comparatively" safe, the remote Gurez Valley in the upper belt of the Neelum district of Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) was heavily bombarded by Indian troops from the other side of the Control Line (LoC) on Tuesday, leaving two civilians dead and four others injured, local officials said.
Gurez lies beyond Kel, located about 156 kilometers northeast of Muzaffarabad, and extends 44 kilometers to Taobutt, the last town in the Neelum district.
Unlike the lower belt of the Neelum district, where the Neelum River serves as the boundary between Azad Kashmir and occupied Kashmir, the Gurez sub-valley is located on both sides of the river and, therefore, has been less vulnerable to cross LoC shots.
However, on Tuesday, this area was "indiscriminately" hit by Indian troops with mortar guns, according to Akhtar Ayub, a disaster management officer based in Athmuqam. Athmuqam is the headquarters of the Neelum Valley District, located about 84 kilometers northeast of Muzaffarabad.
In the village of Halmat, Abdul Jalil Shah, 40, son of Samad Shah, was killed after being hit by splinters from an explosive projectile, Ayub said.
Nosheen, a three-year-old daughter of Muhammad Ramzan, became an indirect victim, losing her life from a psychological shock when "the thunder of the projectiles filled her with panic," he added.
The injured people, who entered a military health center in Halmat, were identified as Ashfaq, son of Ghulam Muhammad Lone; Ghulam Rasool, son of Ghulam Muhammad Mir; Baggi Begum, wife of Rehman Lone; and Hajira Bibi.
Neelum's police superintendent, Asif Durrani, confirmed Ayub's casualty account.
Ayub said that at least two wooden houses in Halmat and one in the neighboring village of Karimabad caught fire due to the bombing and were reduced to ashes. Fortunately, the occupants of these houses managed to save their lives by fleeing to a safe place, he added.
Tariq Maqbool, a local journalist in Lawat, said three mosques were also partially damaged.
According to an Inter Services Public Relations statement, Indian troops had "resorted to unprovoked shots" in the Nekrun Sector throughout the LoC, "deliberately attacking" civilians.
"Three citizens were injured while three houses were burned," the statement confirmed.
The Neelum Valley was bombed by Indian troops, who had attacked an area from Chilyana to Sharda using cluster bombs, on July 30 and 31, leaving four civilians dead and at least 21 others injured.
However, Kel and Gurez sub-valley had escaped that bombing.
Tuesday's casualties have increased the number of civilian deaths in the current year to 37, while the number of injured increased to more than 170.