India carried out pre-dawn air strikes on terror training camps across the Line of Control on Tuesday, two weeks after 40 soldiers were killed in a terror attack in Kashmir's Pulwama. At around 3:30 this morning, 12 Mirage 2000 fighter jets of the Indian Air Force dropped 1,000 kg bombs on terror camps of the Jaish-e-Mohammed, Lashkar-e-Taiba and Hizbul Mujahideen.
Sources told NDTV that the strikes were "100 per cent successful" and went on "exactly as planned". Prime Minister Narendra Modi met with top ministers in the cabinet committee on security at his home in Delhi, after which Home Minister Rajnath Singh flashed a thumbs-up sign at reporters.
Terror launch pads across the Line of Control were destroyed by the laser-guided bombs and so were control rooms of the Jaish, reported ANI. The operation lasted around 19 minutes, say sources.
"Credible information was received that JeM was attempting other attacks in the country. A pre-emptive strike became absolutely necessary. India struck the biggest camp of JeM in Balakot," Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale told reporters in a brief statement.
"The military has taken this necessary step for the country's security. It was an act of extreme valour. PM Modi had earlier given the armed forces the freedom to take action. Today, the entire country is with the forces," Union Minister Prakash Javadekar told reporters in the first official acknowledgement of the operation.
Pakistan claimed that the "no infrastructure was hit" and tried to downplay the impact. "Indian aircrafts' intrusion across LOC in Muzaffarabad Sector within AJ&K was 3-4 miles. Under forced hasty withdrawal aircrafts released payload which had free fall in open area. No infrastructure got hit, no casualties," tweeted Major General Asif Ghafoor of the Inter-Services Public Relations.
The Air Force has put on high alert all air defence systems along the international border and the Line of Control, the news agency reported.
India carried out the strikes two weeks after the terror attack in Jammu and Kashmir's Pulwama, in which over 40 soldiers of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) were killed when a suicide bomber of the Jaish-e-Mohammed exploded a car full of bombs next to a security convoy.
The Jaish-e-Mohammed, which is led by Masood Azhar, had claimed responsibility for the February 14 attack and had also posted videos of the bomber, who had joined the terror group a year ago.
On September 29, 2016, the army had carried out surgical strikes on seven terrorist launch pads across the Line of Control (LoC) in retaliation to an attack on its base in Jammu and Kashmir's Uri earlier that month.
Soon after the Pulwama terror attack, India had appealed to the international community to back the naming of Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar as a "UN designated terrorist".