India struck the biggest camp of JeM in Balakot, says Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale

Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale. Photograph:( ANI )

WION New Delhi, Delhi, India Feb 26, 2019, 11.49 AM (IST) Siddhant Sibal

As credible information emerged that Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) terror group was attempting suicide attacks at various parts of the country, a pre-emptive strike became important and India struck the biggest camp of JeM in Balakot, said Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale.

Briefing media after Indian Air Force's targeted airstrikes on terror camps across the Line of Control, Gokhale said India was firmly and resolutely committed to taking all measures to fight the menace of terrorism, he said and added that the non-military pre-emptive action was targeted specifically at JeM camp.

The selection of the target was also conditioned by our desire to avoid civilian casualties, he said.

(Watch: Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale briefs media about the strike)

''This facility in Balakot was headed by Maulana Yusuf Azhar alias Ustad Ghauri, brother in law of JeM Chief Masood Azhar...The selection of the target was also conditioned by our desire to avoid civilian casualty. It's located in deep forest on a hilltop," he added.

A very large number of JeM terrorists, trainers and Jihadis were eliminated following the operation.

''Strike has taken only a short while ago and we are waiting for the details,'' he said. 

Masood Azhar's brother-in-law has also been killed in the airstrikes. 

Slamming Pakistan for not taking any action Gokhale said, ''Pakistan has taken no concrete actions to dismantle the infrastructure of terrorism on its soil despite being given information of training camps on its territory.''

He elaborated, "the existence of such massive training facilities capable of training hundreds of jihadis could not have functioned without the knowledge of Pakistan authorities." 

He also asked Islamabad ''to not allow its soil or territory under its control to be used for terrorism against India by taking follow up actions to dismantle all JeM and other camps and hold the terrorists accountable for the actions.''

WION has learnt that PM supervised and was present in the situation room at South block when the strike happened.

Sources say multiple options were given with Air Chief Marshal preparing the entire plan.

The target was identified around February 20 and 21 with the Army/Air Force doing the air surveillance along the LoC.

Drones were also used. Overall, two Mirage squadrons with 12 jets were selected for operation.

Meanwhile, Foreign Secretary briefed foreign envoys about the developments. US, China, Russia, UK, Russia, Asean, Brazil envoys were present at the FS briefing.

Earlier in the day, the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi met for the second time since Pulwama attack. Defence minister, external affairs minister, the finance minister, Home Minister, National security advisor and foreign secretary were also present there.

Since the Pulwama attack which took place 12 days ago, India has been taking strong actions against Pakistan on economic front by removing the Most Favored Nation (MFN) status and diplomatically by isolating Pakistan.

Story highlights

India struck the biggest training camp of Jaish-e-Mohammed in Balakot, he said and added, a very large number of JeM terrorists, trainers and Jihadis were eliminated following the operation