In a pre-dawn strike on Tuesday, combat jets of the Indian Air Force bombed and destroyed terror camps of Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed in Balakot. The air strike, which has been dubbed surgical strikes 2.0, comes two weeks after a terror attack on CRPF soldiers in Pulwama, Jammu and Kashmir.
The operation that reportedly lasted for 20 minutes carried out a series of bombings on terror launch pads, with government sources claiming that there were over 200 casualties as a result. Reports say that terror launch pads across the Line of Control in Balakot, Chakothi and Muzaffarabad sectors have been devastated, along with JeM control rooms.
At the beginning, there was confusion over which Balakot has been hit by Indian strikes prevails. Earlier reports claimed that it was in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir, but subsequently media started claiming that the Balakote in KPK province.
According to BBC, the Mirage fighters took off from Ambala air base and bombed designated targets without crossing the international border. ANI says that the air strikes in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa region were based on locations provided by on ground intelligence sources. Quoting its sources, news agency ANI said that Pakistani F16s were scrambled to retaliate against IAF Mirage 2000s but turned back due to size of Indian formation. Western Air Command coordinated operation.
What is India saying?
Sources told CNN-News18 that the force targeted a JeM control room with laser-guided bombs. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had chaired a high-level CCS meeting in New Delhi earlier today along with Union ministers Nirmala Sitharaman and Arun Jaitley on the attack.
Lt Gen DS Hooda (retd), the commanding officer of the Northern Army Command who oversaw the much-lauded surgical strikes in 2016, told CNN-News18 that IAF must have planned it well, selected routes, used sophisticated jammers. "IAF is much superior to Pakistan as far as technology is concerned," he said. Lt Gen DS Hooda (retd) further said that the ball in now in Pakistan's court. "I am sure the Indian side would be well prepared. I think we are more than adequately prepared to retaliate. My thinking is that it's not going to be anything big from their side," he said.
Vijay Gokhale, Foreign Secretary of India, in a press conference said that Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) has been active in Pakistan for the last two decades and led by Azhar Masood, who is based in Bahawalpur. "We have provided info on terror camps in Pakistan and PoK from time to time but they have denied their existence," he said. This is what Gokhale said in the press conference. Read more.
What is Pakistan saying?
In a statement following the air strikes in Pakistan, Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi warned New Delhi not to challenge Islamabad and said that better sense should prevail in India, Radio Pakistan reported. The foreign minister said Pakistan should not be worried over the Indian act as the defenders of the country are fully prepared to respond to any misadventure.
Addressing the media, Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi says that there was a violation. "Pakistan has the right to self defence. We meet PM Imran Khan shortly over the issue," he said.
Politicians from a cross-section of national and regional parties have come together to salute the armed forces and the surgical strike. More, here.
Prime Minister Imran Khan will hold an emergency meeting at 11am (PST) on Tuesday, according to Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi. Earlier this morning, Qureshi had summoned an emergency meeting at the Foreign Office in Islamabad to discuss the emerging situation in the wake of Indian Air Force's (IAF) violation of the Line of Control, Radio Pakistan reported.
China's news agency Xinhua reports that Beijing and Islamabad are holding talks. Foreign ministers of both the countries are in a conversation over India's air strikes.