In the wee hours of February 26, 2019, Indian Air Force fighter jets bombed a terrorist outpost in Balakot, located in Pakistan. The air strikes were in response to the Pulwama attack. Forty Central Reserve Police Force personnel were killed in the Pulwama attack when a suicide bomber rammed his vehicle in a convoy of CRPF vehicles on the Jammu Srinagar Highway. The attack was widely condemned in India and there were strong voices demanding strong action against the perpetrators of the attack. Pakistan-based terrorist outfit Jaish-e-Mohammed claimed responsibility for the attack.
Where is Balakot?
Balakot is located in Mansehra District in Pakistan’s Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province. Balakot is situated some 190 km away from Islamabad, 81 km away from Uri in Jammu and Kashmir, and 50 km from the Line of Control.
At 3.30 am on February 26, 2019, 12 Mirage 2000 fighters of the IAF crossed into Pakistan and threw 1,000 kg bombs on terrorist camps active in the region. As per the IAF, between 200 to 300 terrorists, along with senior commanders, were killed in the air assault. Balakot is a den of terrorist activities with the Jaish-e-Mohammed terror outfit operating its terror training camp here. According to official sources, along with Balakot, terrorist launch pads were also wiped out in Muzaffarabad and Chikoti, located in Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir. But, the target of the attack were terrorists and not civilians. The entire operation was over in less than 20 minutes. According to the Foreign Secretary of India, Vijay Gokhale, a pre-emptive strike was necessary as the Jaish-e-Mohammed was planning more terrorist attacks in India.
Though Pakistan has accepted the claims that Indian aircraft entered its territory, but has stated that apart from a few damaged trees, no casualties were reported.