Indian Air Force (IAF) jets early on Tuesday hit the biggest training camp of the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) group in Pakistan, eliminating a very large number of terrorists and their trainers.
Foreign Secretary Vijay K. Gokhale told the media that the “non-military pre-emptive action was specifically targeted at the terrorist camp” which he said was located on a hill top far away from civilian areas.
The camp, he said, was located at Balakot, about 195 km from Islamabad and over 40 km from Muzaffarabad, in the province Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
Twenty days after a suicide bomber killed 40 CRPF troopers, India on early Tuesday struck the Jaish-e-Mohammed’s (JeM) biggest training camp at Balakote in Pakistani-administered Kashmir, killing a very large number of terrorists and their trainers.
“In an intelligence led operation in the early hours of today, India struck the biggest training camp of JeM in Balakote,” Foreign Secretary Vijay K. Gokhale told the media. “In this operation, a very large number of JeM terrorists, trainers, senior commanders and groups of jehadis who were being trained for fidayeen action were eliminated.
“This facility at Balakote was headed by Maulana Yusuf Azhar (alias Ustad Gauri), the brother-in-law of (JeM leader) Masood Azhar.”
Pakistan admitted that the IAF planes struck Balakote but claimed that they returned when it scrambled its war planes.
“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.
“The selection of the target was also conditioned by our desire to avoid civilian casualties.”
Gokhale said that India had been providing to Islamabad the “location of terrorist training camps in Pakistan and Pakistan-occupied Jammu and Kashmir” from time to time.
But Pakistan keeps denying their existence.
Gokhale said that such “massive training facilities capable of training hundreds of jehadis could not have functioned without the knowledge of Pakistani authorities…
But Pakistan has taken no concrete action to dismantle the infrastructure of terrorism on its soil, he added.
“Credible intelligence was received that the JeM was attempting another suicide terror attack in various parts of the country (India), and the fidayeen jehadis were being trained for this purpose,” Gokhale said.
“In the face of this imminent danger, a pre-emptive strike became absolutely necessary.”
The JeM claimed responsibility for the February 14 suicide bombing at Pulwama in Jammu and Kashmir which killed 40 CRPF troopers.