The Indian Air Force, sources said, eliminated 300 terrorists in "non-military, pre-emptive air strikes" across the Line of Control today, targeting terror group Jaish-e-Mohammed, which had claimed responsibility for the attack on a CRPF convoy in Jammu and Kashmir's Pulwama district in which 40 soldiers were killed two weeks ago. The "facility at Balakot", that was struck by 12 Mirage 2000 fighter jets at 3:30 am today, was headed by Maulana Yousuf Azhar, or Mohammed Salim, the brother-in-law of Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar.
Maulana Yousuf Azhar is believed to be one of the hijackers of Indian Airlines Airbus IC-814 in December 1999, which led to the release of Masood Azhar and two other terrorists in exchange for passengers after a seven day crisis. The flight, from Kathmandu to New Delhi, was hijacked after it entered the Indian air space and flown to several locations before finally being taken to Kandahar in Afghanistan.
The Central Bureau of Investigation website lists Maulana Yousuf Azhar's birthplace as Karachi and says he could speak Urdu and Hindi. Wanted by the Interpol since 2000, the offences listed against him are hijacking, kidnapping and murder.
The CBI website describes him as a person with a "sturdy build", with dark eyes and black hair.
Balakot, about 80 kilometres from Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir, housed the biggest training camp of Jaish-e-Mohammed that was located in thick forests, on a hilltop.
The centre said that there were credible inputs of the terror group planning more suicide attacks and training its fidayeen terrorists in this camp.
"Credible intelligence was received that JeM (Jaish-e-Mohammed) 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," Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale said in a statement.
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