India strikes back: IAF jets pound terror camps in occupied Kashmir
26 February 2019
Indian Force Mirage-2000 jets crossed the Line of Control (LoC) early today and destroyed terror camps of Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed in Balakot, in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
At least 200 people and their backers, including Pakistani army personnel, are reported to have died in the pre-dawn bombing.
Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar’s brother-in-law Maulana Yusuf Azhar alias Ustad Ghuari was the main target of the Indian Air Force (IAF) strike at Balakot, which is located in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan.
The area where Jaish-e-Mohammed terror camp was being run at Balakot is densely forested and located on a hilltop making the IAF operation very challenging that requires extreme precision. The IAF used Mirage 2000 fitted with laser-guided bombs to strike at the terror camps. Mirage 2000 was very successful during the Kargil war in 1999.
The air strike, which has been dubbed surgical strikes 2.0, comes two weeks after a terror attack on CRPF solidiers in Pulwama, Jammu and Kashmir.
Foreign secretary Vijay Gokhale confirmed the air strike and said a large number of JeM terrorists, trainers and senior commanders were eliminated in largest JeM camp in Balakot. The camp was led by Maulana Yusuf Azhar alias Ustad Ghauri, brother-in-law of JeM chief Masood Azhar.
The government said the camp was located on a hilltop, deep in a forest, and far away from any civilian presence.
External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj has invited opposition leaders for a briefing on the air strike in Pakistan. The meeting is scheduled at 5 pm at Jawahar Bhawan.
Indian Army, meanwhile, is reported to have shot down a Pakistani spy drone in Abdasa village, in Kutch, Gujarat. Army and police personnel present at the spot.
Pakistan foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said India has carried out a misadventure against Pakistan. "I will call it a grave aggression. We had warned the world that such an act can take place. Today they carried out this misadventure against Pakistan. This is a violation of the Line of Control. Pakistan reserves the right to an adequate response and a right to self defence. I will meet the prime minister and present him with the view of the foreign ministry," he added.
Tawab Ghorzang, former director at Afghanistan's National Security Council, lauded the Indian Air Force for "hitting terror outfits in Balakot". "The area has been known to have the so-called jihadi training camps since era of Zia-ul-Haq," he said in a tweet.
“Many thanks to @IAF_MCC for hitting terror outfits in Balakot of Mansehra, PAK. The area has been known to have the so- called Jihadi Training Camps since era of Zia-ul-Haq. It's a fight Against Terror, No one else!” he said.
Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah said India has "entered a whole new paradigm" with the Balakote air strike. "The post Uri strike was to avenge our losses, Balakote was a 'preemptive strike to prevent an imminent JeM attack'. Totally new ballgame," he said.
One Pakistani Ranger was also killed and some others were injured after being shot by BSF following a ceasefire violation in Jammu's Kanachak, reports News18 India.
Former army chief VK Singh said India wanted to stop any kind of terror attacks. "We have taken action at the right time. Decision over further action will be taken by authorities concerned," he added.