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Carried pre-emptive air strikes against Pakistan in Balakot, ‘eliminated’ major Jaish camp: India

New Delhi, Feb 26: India Tuesday said it carried out “non-military, pre-emptive air strikes” across the Line of Control (LoC) in a pre-dawn operation targeting the Pakistan-based militant group Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), which was planning more attacks after February 14 Pulwama attack in which 49 paramilitary troopers were killed.

Foreign Secretary, Vijay Gokhale claimed a pre-emptive strike was carried out by India on a training camp of JeM in Balakot across the LoC.
He said they had credible inputs that Jaish was planning more attacks in the aftermath of Pulwama attack.


“Credible information was received that JeM was attempting more attacks in the country. A pre-emptive strike became important. India struck the biggest camp of JeM headed by Maulana Yusuf Azhar alias Ustad Ghauri, brother-in-law of JeM Chief Masood Azhar in Balakot,” he told reporters during a briefing in New Delhi.

“In this operation, a very large number of JeM cadres, trainers, senior commander and Jihadis were eliminated.”

“The Government of India is firmly and resolutely committed to taking all necessary measures to fight the menace of terrorism. Hence this non-military preemptive action was specifically targeted at the JeM camp,” said Gokhale, in the statement.

“The selection of the target was also conditioned by our desire to avoid civilian casualties,” he said.

“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,” he added.

Hours after India confirmed the air strikes, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said at a rally in Rajasthan’s Churu: “I assure you, the country is in safe hands.”

Quoting government sources, reports by several Indian media houses claimed that “around 3.30 am Tuesday, 12 Mirage 2000 fighter jets crossed the Line of Control and dropped 1,000 kg bombs on the vast terror training facility at Balakot, which was the hub of suicide attack training.”

“At least 325 terrorists were at the camp, the biggest operated by Jaish,” the reports claimed.Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan chaired an emergency meeting, after which Islamabad said in a statement: “India has committed uncalled for aggression to which Pakistan shall respond at the time and place of its choosing.”

India soon briefed the representatives of 12 nations about the claimed air strikes across the Line of Control.
Diplomats from the US, UK, Russia, Australia, Indonesia, Turkey and six ASEAN nations were in a meeting with the Foreign Secretary.


Country in safe hands: PM

Churu (RJ), Feb 26: Hours after the government of India claimed air strikes on “terror” targets across the Line of Control in Pakistan, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said at a rally in Rajasthan’s Churu, “I assure you, the country is in safe hands. There is nothing above the nation.”
PM Modi also said, “My soul says, today is the day to reiterate what I had expressed in 2014. I pledge on this soil, I will not let the country die, I will not let the country stop, I will not let the country bend. It is my promise to Mother India, I will not let your head be bowed. I salute our armed forces, I salute all fellow Indians, your Pradhan Sevak bows to you.”
India Tuesday said it carried out “non-military, pre-emptive air strikes” across the Line of Control (LoC) in Balakot, in a pre-dawn operation targeting the Pakistan-based militant group Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), who, it said, was planning more attacks in the country after the February 14 attack in Pulwama in which 49 paramilitary troopers were killed.
The government said it was a covert operation that was meant to target “terrorists” and avoid any civilian casualties. The action has received strong support from political parties and former generals.
“Today, I sense fervour in the crowd,” said the Prime Minister, addressing a gathering that included many ex-servicemen, hours after he was briefed about the strikes at a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Security. “Today, the world is watching India’s power… You are seeing it definitely,” he said. “Repeat with me, Bharat Mata ki Jai,” he shouted, the crowd cheering heartily in return.
“The reason I am able to work like this is because of your support, your trust… and let me tell you this… that we are a government that thinks a party is bigger than an individual, and the nation is bigger than any party,” said PM Modi, wearing a traditional safa or headgear.


China calls for ‘restraint’
Press Trust of India
Beijing, Feb 26: China on Tuesday urged India and Pakistan to “exercise restraint” hours after India claimed its fighter jets struck camp in Pakistan in a pre-dawn attack.
When asked for China’s response to India’s airstrikes, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang told the media here that we have taken note of relevant reports.”
“I want to say that India and Pakistan are both important countries in South Asia. A sound relationship and cooperation between the two serves the interests of both the countries and peace and stability in South Asia,” he said.
“We hope that both India and Pakistan can exercise restraint and do more to improve mutual their bilateral relations,” he said.

Cross-LoC shelling in Rajouri, Poonch; trade unhindered
Monitor News Bureau
Srinagar, Feb 26: The armies of India and Pakistan on Tuesday exchanged heavy shelling along the Line of Control (LoC) in Rajouri and Poonch districts of Jammu and Kashmir, triggering panic among the residents.
Reports said intense shelling was going on in Balakote and Krishna Ghati areas of Poonch district. Reports said that dozens of mortar shells fired from across the LoC landed in Balakote.
Intense shelling was going on in Nowshera Baba Khori, Kalal, Pokhra areas of Nowshera, and Tarkundi area of Rajouri district.
The fresh exchange of fire and shelling comes amid heightened tension over a pre-dawn strike by the Indian Air Force across the LoC in Balakot.
Meanwhile, amid escalating tension and war like situation at borders, the cross-LoC trade continued unhindered at Uri.
According to Custodian of the cross LoC trade, Ghulam Ahmad, 35 trucks from Indian side and equal number of trucks from Pakistani side carrying essential goods crossed the control line, despite the fact that Indian jets were hovering over the skies in the wake of the overnight raids by the IAF in Pakistan administered Kashmir.
“The trade was not affected today. We carried on smoothly with the exchange of the goods. From our side, 35 goods laden trucks crossed the Kaman Bridge and reached Chakothi at around 12.30pm,” said SDM Uri, who is also custodian of the Cross LOC trade.