IAF strikes biggest training camp of Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) group in Pakistan (update)

Mirage 2000 fighter aircraft. (File Photo: IANS/DPRO)
Mirage 2000 fighter aircraft. (File Photo: IANS/DPRO)

UPDATE

 

New Delhi (IANS): Indian Air Force (IAF) jets early on Tuesday hit the biggest training camp of the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) group in Pakistan, eliminating a very large number of terrorists and their trainers.

Foreign Secretary Vijay K. Gokhale told the media that the “non-military pre-emptive action was specifically targeted at the terrorist camp” which he said was located on a hill top far away from civilian areas.

The camp, he said, was located at Balakot, about 195 km from Islamabad and over 40 km from Muzaffarabad, in the province Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

 

Following is the statement by Foreign Secretary Vijay K. Gokhale on the IAF military strike on the JeM training camp at Balakot:

On 14 February 2019, a suicide terror attack was conducted by a Pakistan-based terrorist organization Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), leading to the martyrdom of 40 brave jawans of the CRPF. JeM has been active in Pakistan for the last two decades and is led by Masood Azhar with its headquarters in Bahawalpur.

This organization, which is proscribed by the UN, has been responsible for a series of terrorist attacks including on the Indian Parliament in December 2001 and the Pathankot airbase in January 2016.

Information regarding the location of training camps in Pakistan and PoJK has been provided to Pakistan from time to time. Pakistan, however, denies their existence. The existence of such massive training facilities capable of training hundreds of jidhadis could not have functioned without the knowledge of Pakistan authorities.

India has been repeatedly urging Pakistan to take action against the JeM to prevent jihadis from being trained and armed inside Pakistan. Pakistan has taken no concrete actions to dismantle the infrastructure of terrorism on its soil.

Credible intelligence was received that JeM was attempting another suicide terror attack in various parts of the country, and the fidayeen jihadis were being trained for this purpose. In the face of imminent danger, a pre-emptive strike became absolutely necessary.

In an intelligence-led operation in the early hours of today, India struck the biggest training camp of JeM in Balakot. In this operation, a very large number of JeM terrorists, trainers, senior commanders and groups of jihadis who were being trained for fidayeen action were eliminated. This facility at Balakot was headed by Maulana Yousuf Azhar (alias Ustad Ghouri), the brother-in-law of Masood Azhar, chief of JeM.

The Government of India is firmly and resolutely committed to taking all necessary measures to fight the menace of terrorism. Hence this non-military pre-emptive action was specifically targeted at the JeM camp. The selection of the target was also conditioned by our desire to avoid civilian casualties. The facility is located in thick forest on a hilltop far away from any civilian presence. As the strike has taken place only a short while ago, we are awaiting further details.

The Government of Pakistan had made a solemn commitment in January 2004 not to allow its soil or territory under its control to be used for terrorism against India. We expect that Pakistan lives up to its public commitment and takes follow up actions to dismantle all JeM and other camps and hold the terrorists accountable for the actions.

 

AMID confusion about the location as there are two places by the name of Balakot/Balakote, the Director General of Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), Asif Ghafoor, said the “intrusion” took place within three to four miles of LoC in Pakistan administered Kashmir.

His earlier tweet had mentioned that the Indian fighters dropped a payload at Balakot.

A place called Balakot is located in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and a Balakote is located in the Pakistani administered Kashmir.

Following an uproar in Pakistan about Indian jets flying deep into its territory, the DG ISPR clarified that the intrusion took place close to the LoC.

The alleged incident took place in the Muzaffarabad sector, said Radio Pakistan.

 

EARLIER REPORT

 

New Delhi / Islamabad (IANS): Pakistan claimed on Tuesday that Indian Air Force (IAF) fighter jets crossed the Line of Control (LoC) and returned after the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) scrambled war planes.

Director General Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Asif Ghafoor tweeted early Tuesday and Radio Pakistan claimed that the IAF planes dropped payload in haste before leaving, which fell near Balakot in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

The alleged incident took place in the Muzaffarabad sector, claimed Radio Pakistan.

It follows a suicide bombing attack on a Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) convoy in Pulwama on February 14 that killed 40 troopers.

The attack was claimed by Pakistan-based militant group, Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), and prompted a spike in tensions between the two nuclear-armed neighbours.

The Indian government is yet to respond to the development but multiple reports have claimed that the IAF carried out the strike at a terror camp well beyond the LoC.

Flight tracking websites spotted heightened activities along the border with an IAF early warning plane Emb 145 and mid-air refueller circling in the area early in the morning.

Reports claimed that the IAF strike was carried out by a group of Mirage 2000 fighters at around 3.30 a.m.

The strike in Balakot is significant as the location is beyond Pakistan Administered Kashmir, indicating it was not merely an LoC violation but a punitive action inside Pakistani territory.

 

Congress President Rahul Gandhi and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Tuesday praised the pilots of the Indian Air Force (IAF).

“I salute the pilots of the IAF,” Gandhi tweeted.

Kejriwal in a tweet said: “I salute the bravery of Indian Air Force pilots who have made us proud by striking terror targets in Pakistan.”

Pakistan’s Director General of Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Asif Ghafoor in a tweet confirmed that the jets dropped in the payload near Balakot in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.