An Indian Air Force strike in Balakot destroyed a terror camp of Jaish-e-Mohammad in Pakistan early on Tuesday morning.
The action, later described by India as a “pre-emptive”, “non-military strike”, is reported to have been carried out by 12 Mirage 2000 fighter jets of the Indian Air Force (IAF), using laser-guided 1,000-kg bombs.
A large number of terrorists, trainers, and commanders are believed to have died in the air attack on Pakistan, multiple news reports said, quoting government and intelligence sources.
The Indian Air Force strike in Balakot is the first air by India inside Pakistan-controlled airspace since the 1971 Indo-Pak War. It came 12 days after the Pak-based JeM carried out a suicide terror attack on Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) convoy in Pulwama, Jammu and Kashmir.
Forty CRPF jawans were killed in the attack, prompting calls for action against JeM and other terror groups supported by Pakistan.
How The Indian Air Force Strike In Balakot Unfolded
Twelve Mirage 2000 fighter jets of the IAF took off at about 3:30 am. Their target – Balakot in Pakistan’s Khyber Paktunkhwa (KPK) province – was based on very precise intelligence inputs.
Located about 18 km from Muzaffarabad in Pak-occupied Kashmir (PoK), Balakot housed the biggest training camp of the JeM. The camp was located on top of a hill, in a densely-forested area, away from civilian population.
This camp was headed by Maulana Yousuf Azhar (alias Ustad Ghouri), the brother-in-law of JeM chief Masood Azhar.
The bombs dropped by the IAF fighter jets succeeded in destroying the camp, Indian officials said. All the jets returned safely to India after the operation.
Official Statement On Indian Air Force strike in Balakot
An official briefing about the action followed a few hours after the IAF action. Here are extracts from what Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale said while briefing the media about the operation.
- 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 jihadis could not have functioned without the knowledge of Pakistan authorities.
- 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 preemptive 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.
India also embarked on a diplomatic outreach to brief envoys of major countries based in New Delhi about the air strikes on Pakistan. Soon after the IAF action, the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi took stock of the situation.