UN confirms vehicle on routine patrol damaged in Rawalakot, says investigating incident

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The United Nations on Friday confirmed that a vehicle of the UN Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) was hit by an “unidentified object” near Rawalakot on the Pakistani side of Line of Control (LoC) in the disputed Kashmir region, but the occupants were not injured.

“The Mission is currently investigating the incident,” Deputy Spokesman Farhan Haq said in response to a question at the regular briefing in New York. He said that according to details present with him, no one was injured in the incident but the UNMOGIP vehicle sustained damage.

Responding to an Indian journalist’s question, of whether the UN is aware of the Indian government’s rejection of reports from Pakistan, Haq said, “We are aware of what both sides have been saying”.

“At this stage, we’re simply aware that a vehicle was hit by an unidentified object, like I said no one was harmed […] and we are investigating the incident.”

He said the incident occurred when UNMOGIP military observers were conducting routine monitoring activities near Rawalakot as part of the Mission’s mandate to observe and report on ceasefire violations at the LoC in Jammu and Kashmir.

In Islamabad, the Foreign office said Indian troops “specifically targeted” the UN vehicle carrying two UNMOGIP officers in what was termed a “new low” in Indian conduct.

The UNMOGIP officers were on their way to Polas village to meet with the victims of Indian ceasefire violations when they came under fire, the Foreign Office said.

The officers were immediately evacuated by the Pakistan Army and brought back to the UNMOGIP field station in Rawalakot, according to the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR).

Sharing pictures of the UN vehicle with bullet holes, the military’s media wing said the attack was “deliberate” since “UN vehicles are clearly recognisable even from long distances due to their distinct make and type and clearly visible markings.”

“Such illegal and unlawful acts against all established international norms, signify mal-intent of Indian Army to target not only innocent civilians residing along the Line of Control but UN Peace Keepers as well,” it said.

“This act only goes to show Indian Army’s complete disregard to principles enshrined in [the] UN Charter. It is indeed a new low for Indian Army.”

The ISPR said the Pakistan Army stood in solidarity with UNMOGIP officials and appreciated the “selfless services rendered by all members of UNMOGIP in discharge of their UN-mandated duties”.