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India carries out air strikes on terror camp in Pakistan; Sends out a message


ANI General News
In the swift operation, launched at around 3.30 am and completed within minutes, 12 Mirage-2000 fighter jets pounded the training centre, housing around 300 terrorists, in Balakot area of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province with six bombs while SU-30 combat aircraft maintained air superiority to ward off any retaliation by the Pakistan Air Force, sources said.
The camp, located in a forest area atop a hill, was headed by Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Masood Azhar's brother-in-law Yusuf Azhar alias Ustad Gauri, who was involved in the 1999 hijack of Indian Airlines plane IC-814 and was on Interpol lookout notice since 2000.
The casualty figure of the terrorists is very high as the JeM had shifted its entire cadre to this camp from the launching pads along the Line of Control (LoC), fearing surgical strike-type response from India in the aftermath of Pulwama attack, sources said about first such action by India.
A large number of Jaish terrorists, including top commanders, trainers and those terrorists who were to be the 'fidayeen' (suicide attackers) were eliminated in the "non-military" air strike, Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale told the media while officially disclosing information about the air strike, hours after the action.
Sources said the camp housed an ammunition dump having more than 200 AK rifles, uncountable rounds of hand grenades, explosives, and detonators and it was blown up in the strike.
Gokhale said the "pre-emptive" strike by India had become absolutely necessary as there was credible information that JeM, which recently carried out terror attack in Pulwama, was planning further attacks in this country.
Gokhale, who read out a statement and refused to take any questions, described the action as a "non-military" air strike, apparently inferring that a terror camp and not any military facility was the target.
He said the strike was "conditioned" to avoid any civilian casualty.
Jaish-e-Mohammad terror outfit, Gokhale pointed out, has been active in Pakistan for last two decades but Pakistan government has always denied its existence and taken no action.
He noted that JeM has been responsible for series of terror attack in India, including one on Parliament in 2001 and recently on CRPF convoy in Pulwama in which 40 security personnel were killed.
Pakistan took no action despite India providing information from time to time, the Foreign Secretary said.
He said it was impossible to believe that such facilities, where hundreds of terrorists are trained, can operate without the knowledge of authorities in Pakistan.
The Foreign Secretary also pointed out that JeM has already been proscribed by the UN.
Sources said Prime Minister Narendra Modi, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and IAF Chief Air Chief Marshal B S Dhanoa kept a watch on the operations throughout the night till all the jets returned safely.
Later, the Prime Minister chaired a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) which took stock of the situation arising out of the action.
Intelligence sources said the IAF demolished the entire terror set up at the suicide bombing training centre in Balakot and over 300 terrorists were targeted.
Among the targets were Maulana Ammar, who is associated with Afghanistan and Kashmir operations, and Maulana Talha Saif, brother of Maulana Masood Azhar and head of suicide bomber preparation wing, the intelligence sources said.
Mufti Azhar Khan Kashmiri, head of Kashmir operations, and Ibrahim Azhar, elder brother of Masood Azhar were also targetted, the sources added.
Pictures provided by the Intelligence sources showed flags of the United States, United Kingdom, and Israel painted on staircases at the camp.
"The entire strike to decimate training centres was concluded within minutes. The permanent establishment of trainers destroyed in Balakot," the sources said.
"A surgical strike was not possible due to difficult terrain, dense forests, and the steep hills. This was in favour of the covert operation to protect India's sovereign rights," the sources said.
The Foreign Secretary, while explaining the need for such an action, said, "Credible intelligence was received that JeM was attempting another suicide terror attack in various parts of the country, and the 'fidayeen jihadis' (suicide bombers_ were being trained for this purpose. In the face of imminent danger, a pre-emptive strike became absolutely necessary."
He said the Government of India "is firmly and resolutely committed to taking all necessary measures to fight the menace of terrorism. Hence, this non-military pre-emptive action was specifically targeted at the JeM camp."
Targeting Pakistan, Gokhale said it had made "a solemn commitment" in January 2004 not to allow its soil or territory under its control to be used for terrorism against India.
"We expect that Pakistan lives up to its public commitment and takes follow up actions to dismantle all JeM and other camps and hold the terrorists accountable for the actions," he said.
The attack on CRPF convoy had triggered nationwide outrage and anger and the Prime Minister Narendra Modi had vowed to punish those responsible for the heinous act.

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First Published: Feb 26 2019 | 6:02 PM IST

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