Indian officials said air strikes on a Pakistani militant training camp had killed “a very large number” of fighters but Pakistan representatives denied anyone had died in the attack.

By Daniel Herborn

Posted on February 27, 2019

Indian officials claimed up to 300 people were killed in the strike but Pakistani counterparts said the Indian bombs had fallen in a forest and had not caused any fatalities.

Pakistan reserved the right to retaliate against India after the air strike. A spokesman said a command and control authority meeting, which oversees the deployment of nuclear weapons, had been set for Wednesday 27 February local time. Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said the country has the “right to self-defence”.

The two nations have previously fought three wars against each other. Both have nuclear arsenals.

Indian officials said the air strike hit a terrorist camp

The air strike took place near Balakot, some 50 kilometres (31 miles) from the Kashmir Line of Control.

India’s Minister of State for Agriculture, Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, wrote on Twitter: “Air Force carried out aerial strike early morning today at terror camps across the LoC (Line of Control) and Completely destroyed it.” He hashtagged the tweet with ‘#Surgicalstrike2’.

Indian officials said the air strikes had successfully targeted a training camp of Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) fighters. JeM took responsibility for the suicide bombing in Indian-controlled Kashmir in February.

Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale said “the existence of such training facilities, capable of training hundreds of jihadis, could not have functioned without the knowledge of the Pakistani authorities.” Pakistan has denied providing a safe harbour for JeM.

Anti-Indian group JeM took responsibility for a suicide bombing on 14 February

Tensions have been high between the two nations since the suicide bombing. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi blamed the attack on Pakistan.

In a statement from the White House after the attack, the US singled out Pakistan and urged it to “end immediately the support and safe haven provided to all terrorist groups operating on its soil, whose only goal is to sow chaos, violence, and terror in the region.”

The United Nations Security Council did not name Pakistan in its statement on the attack but noted that JeM had taken responsibility. The statement “underlined the need to hold perpetrators, organizers, financiers and sponsors of these reprehensible acts of terrorism accountable and bring them to justice.” JeM has been on a UN list of terrorist organisations since 2001 and has links to al Qaeda.

Header image credit: Shankar S.