LG DS Hooda hails 'professional' IAF strike on JeM camp


Later Tuesday evening, Anand said Pakistani soldiers fired mortar shells and small-arms fire along the Line of Control at the Nowshera, Poonch and Akhnoor sectors, prompting Indian troops to "strongly and befittingly" respond.

India said the attack was the handiwork of Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), a Pakistan based terror group, and accused Pakistan of having a "direct hand" in the atrocity, a claim denied by Islamabad. "And as a military we are much more superior than Pakistan", he added.

Pakistan called the attack a "grave aggression" and promised a "timely and effective response" by its own military.

Ammar is believed to be responsible for several attacks in Kashmir and Afghanistan.

"The area is open to anybody and everybody, including all foreign ambassadors, defence attaches, and United Nations military observers group in Pakistan", he added.

The purported camp was said to be headed up by Maulana Yousuf Azhar, the brother-in-law of Maulana Masood Azhar, the leader of Jaish-e-Muhammad and one of India's most wanted men.

"In an intelligence-led operation in the early hours of today, India struck the biggest training camp of JeM in Balakot", Mr Gokhale said.

The airstrikes came 12 days after a suicide auto bomb attack by Jaish-e-Muhammad on Indian paramilitary soldiers in India's half of Kashmir.

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The attack targeted an area on the disputed border, around the village of Balakot.

"There are no casualties, there is no damage on the ground because of the dropping of the bombs", he said. Pakistan Air Force immediately scrambled.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, facing a tight election in the next couple of months, has vowed a strong response to the February 14 attack in the Pulwama district of Kashmir, the deadliest single assault on Indian forces in 30 years of insurgency in the Muslim-majority region. "I pledge on this soil, I will not let the country die, I will not let the country stop".

China, a close ally of Pakistan, urged both sides to show restraint.

Pakistan's chief military spokesperson, Major General Asif Ghafoor, tweeted photos of what he said was the site where the Indian munitions hit. In the a year ago an increasingly bloody crackdown on insurgents in Indian-ruled Kashmir has escalated tensions in the troubled region.

Kashmir - divided between India and Pakistan but claimed by both in its entirety - has been the cause of two wars between the uneasy neighbors. The Himalayan territory is divided between the two countries and has triggered two of their three wars.

Pakistan has outlawed Jaish-e-Mohammad and seized its property in south Punjab's Bawahalpur area, including religious schools and mosques.

Congress President Rahul Gandhi, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy were among the first politicians who congratulated the IAF after news of the airstrikes began to trickle in.