Kashmir Indepth

Army, other forces put on alert after ‘IAF strikes across LoC’


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Srinagar, Feb 26 : Army and other government forces have been put on high alert on Tuesday after New Delhi said Indian Air Force (IAF) carried air strikes across LoC in Balakote as a retaliatory measure for the February 14 Pulwama attack.

An army officer told news agency that instructions have been received by all government forces “to remain alert” against any possible attack till further orders.

Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale earlier in the day said that India had “struck the biggest training camp of Jaish-e-Mohammed in Balakote.”

At a press briefing, he said, “In this operation, a very large number of JeM (militants), trainers, senior commanders and groups of ‘jihadis’ who were being trained for fidayeen action were eliminated.”

“Credible intelligence was received that JeM was attempting another suicide attack in various parts of the country, and the fidayeen jihadis were being trained for this purpose. In the face of imminent danger, a pre-emptive strike became absolutely necessary,” he said, adding, “In an intelligence-led operation in the early hours of today, India struck the biggest training camp of JeM in Balakot. In this operation, a very large number of JeM (militants), trainers, senior commanders and groups of jihadis who were being trained for fidayeen action were eliminated. This facility at Balakot was headed by Maulana Yousuf Azhar (alias Ustad Ghouri), the brother-in-law of Masood Azhar, Chief of JeM.”

The Government of India, he said, 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. The selection of the target was also conditioned by our desire to avoid civilian casualties. The facility is located in the 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.” (GNS)

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