India is claiming responsibility for air strikes on Pakistani territory.
India says the attack targeted a camp of the Islamist militant group Jaish-e-Mohammad. The group took responsibility for a suicide bombing in Indian Kashmir earlier this month. The explosion killed 30 paramilitary troops.
India says many militants died in the air strikes on Tuesday. The strikes will increase military tensions between India and Pakistan. Pakistani officials claim the attack caused no damage or injuries.
In a statement, Indian foreign secretary Vijay Gokhale called the attack a “pre-emptive strike.” He also said he had reasonable intelligence that the Jaish-e-Mohammed was planning another suicide terror attack in India.
The foreign secretary said his country struck the group’s biggest training center at Balakot, in Pakistan. “In this operation, a very large number of Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorists, trainers, (and) senior commanders,” were killed, he said.
Gokhale added that India had taken steps to avoid civilian deaths and injuries.
In Pakistan, Prime Minister Imran Khan called an emergency meeting of his national security committee on Tuesday. After the meeting, his office released a statement. It said that the strike was a political move because India is in an “election environment.”
The statement added that India’s claims were “fictitious.” It said local and international media were being taken to the area so they could see it was not a militant camp.
Major General Asif Ghafoor, a Pakistani spokesman, denied India’s description of the attack. In a statement on Twitter, he said, “Indian aircrafts…(faced) timely and effective response from Pakistan Air Force.” He added that there were no deaths or damage from the attack.
Observers said this is the first air strike launched across the line of control in Kashmir since the two countries fought a war in 1971.
Indian forces and air defenses have been put on high alert while waiting for possible reaction by Pakistan. Pakistan has warned it will answer any military action by India. There has been a large Pakistani troop buildup in Indian Kashmir in recent days.
The Indian foreign secretary repeated his country’s calls on Pakistan to take action against militants operating on its territory. He said Pakistan should take action to remove Jaish-e-Mohammed camps and arrest terrorists.
Pakistan has long denied that it gives assistance to militant groups that target Kashmir.
The deadly car bombing in Indian Kashmir led to widespread anger in India and calls for action. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had promised a strong response and said the armed forces had been given the freedom to take action.
The targeting of militant camps is a change from India’s years-old policy of restraint. The militant groups are fighting for either Kashmir’s independence or to join Pakistan.
The military action follows a diplomatic attempt by India to isolate Pakistan from other countries for its suspected support to militant groups. The Himalayan territory is divided between the two countries and has been the cause of two of their three wars.
VOA’s Anjana Pasricha reported this story. Susan Shand adapted her report for VOA Learning English. George Grow was the editor.
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Words in This Story
pre-emptive – adj. done to stop an unwanted act by another group or country from happening
fictitious – adj. not true or real
alert – n. to give (someone) important information about a possible problem or danger
response – n. an answer; something spoken, written or done in reaction to something else
isolate – v. to put or keep (someone or something) in a place or situation that is separate from others