LG DS Hooda hails 'professional' IAF strike on JeM camp

In a press conference, Gokhale said India struck the biggest camp of Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) in Balakot, which was headed by Maulana Yusuf Azhar alias Ustad Ghauri, brother-in-law of JeM chief Masood Azhar.

Shelling across the Kashmiri Line of Control has frequently occurred over the last few years, while tensions between the neighbours have been simmering, but airspace violations are rare.

The divergent Indian and Pakistani positions in the aftermath of Tuesday's strikes is reminiscent of statements released by both sides after India's decision in September 2016 - after the killing of Indian troops by Pakistan-based militants - to conduct what it called "surgical strikes" against Pakistan-administered Kashmir-based "launch pads".

It is then clarified that "India has been repeatedly urging Pakistan to take action against the JeM to prevent jihadis from being trained and armed inside Pakistan".

Indian Foreign Secretary Vijay Keshav Gokhale called the strike a "non-military pre-emptive action, specifically targeted at the Jaish-e-Muhammad camp".

The airstrikes came 12 days after a suicide auto bomb attack by Jaish-e-Muhammad on Indian paramilitary soldiers in India's half of Kashmir.

Balakot Police Chief Saghir Hussain Shah said he had sent teams to the area where the Indian bombs reportedly hit, which he described as a mostly deserted wooded area.

India has been seething since February 14 when a young Kashmiri, believed to be associated with the JeM, drove a auto full of explosives in a military convoy in the Pulwama area of Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK), killing almost four dozen troops in an attack described as the deadliest in the region's history. "No casualties or damage", he said in another tweet.

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The militant groups are fighting for either Kashmir's independence or its merger with Pakistan. The Himalayan region has been divided between India and Pakistan for more than 70 years.

The report said the jets dropped large bombs on a "major terrorist camp".

There was no immediate comment from New Delhi.

Masood Azhar was also on target in the pre-dawn attack.

"We are a responsible nation and our forces are capable to defend each every inch of our motherland", he told a local television channel. Pakistan at the time claimed no Indian incursion had occurred.

Earlier this month, Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan authorized the army to "respond decisively and comprehensively to any aggression or misadventure" by India, after New Delhi vowed a "jaw-breaking response" to the suicide bombing.

It says Rahman was influenced by extremist Mullahs in Pakistan and decided he would go to Jihad in support of the Taliban. "Pakistan has taken no concrete actions to dismantle the infrastructure of terrorism on its soil".

  • Sonia Alvarado