ibtimes: In a media briefing Tuesday morning, Indian Foreign Secretary Vijay Keshav Gokhale said credible information was received that terrorist group Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) was planning more suicide attacks in India.
“In the face of imminent danger, a preemptive strike became absolutely necessary,” he said, providing the reasoning behind the Indian government’s decision to attack enemy territory.
Gokhale also said India struck the biggest training camp of JeM, and that its top commanders and a number of other terrorists were eliminated in the air strike. JeM, responsible for a series of terror attacks in India, is active in Pakistan, Gokhale said, adding that information about its operations had been provided to the country, but the Pakistani side had always denied knowledge of its existence.
Meanwhile, Indian Air Force sources confirmed to BBC its aircraft crossed the Line of Control that separates the India- and Pakistan-controlled portions of Kashmir, but did not fly across the international border.
Indian news channel ABP News reported three launch pads of the Jaish-e-Mohammad were destroyed. These launch pads were at Balakot, Chakoti and Muzaffarabad. The control rooms of the terrorist group were also destroyed. 140 IAF aircraft were lined up near the border and were ready to strike at short notice. Local media reports claimed nearly 200 terrorists were hit in the air strike.
Drones were also reportedly used in the attack. All the border forces were put on high alert post the attack.
The Indian Air Force (IAF) crossed into Pakistan on Monday night and struck terror camps in Pakistan-controlled Kashmir, significantly escalating the tensions between the two nuclear-armed rivals.
Pakistan said the warplanes intruded into the country from the Muzafarabad sector, across the across the Line of Control (LoC) that divides the two countries in Kashmir. Director-General Inter-Services Public Relations Major-General Asif Ghafoor said the “Pakistan Air Force immediately scrambled” and the Indian aircraft went back.
India has not officially commented on the reports but news agency ANI reported quoting IAF sources that Mirage 2000 planes of the IAF struck a major terrorist camp across the LoC and completely destroyed it. The attack took place around 3.30 am India time.
Other reports said 12 Mirage 2000 jets took part in the operation and dropped 1,000 kg bombs on camps of the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terror group in Balakot. The strike comes after reports of ceasefire violation by Pakistan at the LoC in the last few days.
In a tweet the Pakistan military spokesman said the Indian aircraft were met with a “timely and effective response from Pakistan Air Force” and that it ended up releasing “payload in haste while escaping which fell near Balakot.” He also tweeted out photos of craters allegedly from the bombs.
The town is about 160 kilometers from Pakistan capital Islamabad. No damage or causalities were reported.
Tensions have risen between the two nuclear-armed countries after a terrorist drove a car laden with explosives into an Indian paramilitary convoy in Kashmir, killing scores of soldiers. India has accused Pakistan of providing support and sanctuary to the terrorists operating in Kashmir. The JeM group had taken responsibility for the attack.