India says it has carried out pre dawn air strikes in Pakistan on a camp of the Islamist militant group Jaish-e-Mohammad, which claimed responsibility for a suicide auto bomb that killed 40 paramilitary troops in Indian Kashmir almost two weeks ago.
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. Key Jaish e Mohammed terrorists targeted in today's air strikes included Azhar Khan Kashmiri, head of Kashmir operations and Masood Azhar's elder brother Ibrahim Azhar.
Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale addressing the media said India had received credible information on JeM attempting other attacks in the country and therefore a pre-emptive strike had become necessary.
The JeM control room was completely destroyed in the air strike, sources said.
Islamabad called India's air raids as "reckless and fictitious" and said it would respond in due course "at a time and place of its choosing".
"There are no casualties, there are no damages on the ground because of the dropping of the bombs", he said. When Pakistan continues to do terror activities against India, it doesn't mean we will sit back because of fear of escalation.
Pakistan was led by President Ayyub Khan and India by then-Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri.
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Residents of Chikhoti, on the Pakistan side of the Line of Control, said they heard the roar of Indian jets as they crossed overhead.
Nobody in India knew about the purported strike - not even their defence ministry - until Pakistan's chief military spokesperson Major General Asif Ghafoor broke the news on his official Twitter handle on Tuesday morning.
Pakistan, which denies harbouring the JeM, also dismissed India's claim, saying the Indian aircraft had dropped their bombs in a wooded area, causing no damage or casualties.
On 14 February 2019, a suicide terror attack was conducted by a Pak-based terrorist organization Jaish-e-Mohammad, leading to the martyrdom of 40 courageous jawans of the CRPF. This is Balakot in the Mansehra district of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan, and not in PoK near LoC.
The development comes amid heightened tension between India and Pakistan following the 14 February suicide attack on a CRPF convoy in Jammu and Kashmir in which 44 jawans were killed.
"I can assure you that India is in safe hands", he said from a podium placed before a collage of photographs of members of security forces who had died in Kashmir this month. The Pulwama attack was the deadliest against Indian security personnel in Kashmir in 30 years.