Indian fighter jets on Tuesday morning carried out cross-border air strikes on Jaish-e-Mohammad terror camps in Balakot, killing "a very large number of JeM terrorists, trainers and jihadis", Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale said.
The strike comes 12 days after the terror group killed 40 CRPF troopers in a suicide attack in Pulwama.
Briefing the media on the pre-dawn operation, Gokhale said the air strike by Indian Air Force fighter jets was a "non-military pre-emptive action" targeted specifically at the JeM camp.
He said the "intelligence-led operation" on the Pakistan-based terror group's biggest training camp in Balakot became "absolutely necessary" as it was planning more suicide attacks in India. JeM claimed responsibility for the February 14 Pulwama attack on a CRPF convoy.
Sources told PTI that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has briefed President Ram Nath Kovind and Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu about Tuesday's strike.
It was not clear if the strike was on Balakote in Pakistan occupied Kashmir or Balakot in Pakistan's Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. Gokhale also did not give details of how the attacks were carried out or confirm earlier reports by sources that Mirage aircraft were used to drop bombs in the operation.
He also said that India expects Pakistan to dismantle all terror camps, including of the JeM.
"In an intelligence lead operation in the early hours today, India struck the biggest training camp of Jaish-e-Mohammad in Balakot. In this operation, a very large number of JeM terrorists, trainers, senior commander and Jihadis were eliminated," the Foreign Secretary announced.
Foreign Secretary: India is firmly&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. pic.twitter.com/IKoK9G2NS5— ANI (@ANI) February 26, 2019
The facility at Balakot, located in a thick forest on a hilltop far away from civilian presence, was headed by Maulana Yousuf Azhar, alias Ustad Ghouri, the brother-in-law of JeM chief Masood Azhar, he said, reading out from a statement.
The statement did not say if Yousuf Azhar was among those killed.
"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 the JeM camp. The selection of the target was also conditioned by our desire to avoid civilian casualties," he said.
(With agency inputs)
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