Hours after the pre-dawn offensive on Pakistan-based terror camps, the Government said on Tuesday said that “India has struck the biggest training camp of Jaish-e-Mohammed in Balakot eliminating a very large number of JeM terrorists, trainers, senior commander and jihadis in the operation”.
The camp in Balakot was led by Maulana Yusuf Azhar alias Ustad Ghauri, brother-in-law of JeM Chief Masood Azhar. Yusuf Azhar was on the Interpol list and among the most wanted in India.
Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale addressing the media said India had received credible information on JeM attempting other attacks in the country and therefore a pre-emptive strike had become necessary.
“Credible intelligence was received that Jaish-e-Mohammed was attempting another suicide terror attack in various parts of the country and fidayeen jihadis were being trained for this purpose,” he said.
He said the non-military pre-emptive action was targeted specifically at the JeM camp adding that the selection of the target was also conditioned to avoid civilian casualties.
“India has given proof many times seeking action against Jaish-e-Mohammed and others at terror camps so big, that they can train hundreds of jihadis and terrorists at any given time. But due to Pakistan’s inaction, this step was necessary and had to be taken,” he said.
“India is firmly and resolutely committed to taking all measures to fight the menace of terrorism. This non-military pre-emptive action was targeted specifically at JeM camp. The selection of the target was also conditioned by our desire to avoid civilian casualties,” Gokhale added.
In a 21-minute offensive, 12 Mirage 2000 jets carried out the strike at around 3.30 am and dropped 1000 Kg bombs on terror camps across LOC, completely destroying it.
The IAF jets struck terror camps and launch pads across the LoC in Balakot at around 3.45 am, Muzaffarabad at around 3.48 am and Chakoti at around 3.58 am.
One of the targets destroyed by Indian fighter jets was reportedly in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa area. Strikes in the region were based on locations provided by on-ground intelligence sources.
According to a report by NDTV, the IAF strike has led to 200-300 casualties on the Pakistani side.
Following the attack, the Indian Air Force has put on high alert across all air defence systems along the international border and LoC to respond to any possible action by the Pakistan Air Force.
The development comes amid heightened tension between India and Pakistan following the 14 February suicide attack on a CRPF convoy in Jammu and Kashmir in which 44 jawans were killed. Pakistan-based and supported terror outfit Jaish-e-Mohammed had claimed responsibility for the attack.