Balakot Attack – India Strikes back
Indian fighter jets crossed the Line of Control before dawn on Tuesday, 26th February and carried out “non-military, pre-emptive air strikes” within Pakistan to target a training camp of the terror group Jaish-e-Mohammed, in the biggest escalation between the two countries in decades.
This was in response to Jaish-e-Mohammed’s attack on 40 soldiers in Pulwama, in the deadliest attack on security forces in Kashmir on Feb 14th. 2019
Indian Air Force fighter jets struck the biggest camp of the Jaish-e-Mohammed, in Balakot, killing over 300 terrorists including Jaish chief Masood Azhar’s brother-in-law, sources said.
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.”
Around 3.30 am, 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, said government sources. Several terrorists, trainers and Jaish commanders planning more terror strikes in India were killed, Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale said.
“There was very credible intelligence information that JeM (Jaish-e-Mohammed) was planning to carry out terror strikes across India, thereby making this strike absolutely necessary. It was a non-military, pre-emptive strike,” he said.
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.”
The Balakot camp, located in the thick forests and on a hilltop, was headed by Maulana Yousuf Azhar, or Ustad Ghouri, the brother-in-law of Masood Azhar. Yousuf Azhar was one of the terrorists involved in the 1999 hijack of the Indian Airlines flight IC-814.
After the Pulwama attack, at a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Security chaired by PM Modi, it was decided that India needs to send a strong message, sources said.
“Credible intelligence was received that Jaish-e-Mohammed was attempting another suicide terror attack in various parts of the country and fidayeen jihadis (suicide bombers) were being trained for this purpose,” the Foreign Secretary said.
“India has given proof many times seeking action against Jaish-e-Mohammed and others at terror camps so big, that they can train hundreds of jihadis and terrorists at any given time. But due to Pakistan’s inaction, this step was necessary and had to be taken,” he asserted.
The strikes were “100 per cent successful” and went on “exactly as planned”, sources said, adding that the planes returned without a scratch. Pakistan tried to scramble F-16 but could not engage the Indian jets.
India has started briefing major world powers about the air strike.
India had appealed to the international community to back the naming of Masood Azhar as a “UN designated terrorist”.
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.
This morning, the Indian Air Force crossed the Line of Control for the first time since 1971.