SRINAGAR/NEW DELHI: Eight months after Indian Air Force missiles destroyed a terrorist training facility deep inside Pakistan’s Balakot, the Indian Army on Sunday launched a major artillery attack on four militant launch pads in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir’s (PoK) Neelam Valley opposite the Tangdhar sector in J&K’s Kupwara.
The Indian artillery fire killed 6-10 Pakistani soldiers, an equal number of terrorists and took out at least three of four terrorist launch pads, Army Chief Gen Bipin Rawat later informed. The Army action was in retaliation to the unprovoked ceasefire violations by Pakistan to assist infiltration of terrorists into the Indian side in the Tangdhar sector, officials said.
While three terror camps were destroyed in the action. another one was severely damaged, Gen Rawat said, adding the retaliation had caused substantial harm to the terrorist infrastructure across the Line of Control (LoC).
Talking to reporters on the sidelines of an event, he said Defence Minister Rajnath Singh had been briefed. The action came on the eve of Assembly elections in Maharashtra and Haryana besides a clutch of bypolls.
Gen Rawat said the Army had precise information on the terror launch pads. “Of late, we were getting information that terrorists are coming closer to camps in the forward areas. Ever since the abrogation of special provisions (for J&K), we are getting repeated inputs about infiltration by terrorists from across the border. In the last one month, we have seen repeated attempts from different sectors to infiltrate terrorists. So, it was decided that we target that terror camps across. We had the coordinates of these camps. We have caused severe damage to terror infrastructure,” he said.
On the Indian side, Pakistani shelling killed two Armymen and a civilian. Eight other civilians were injured. This is the third instance of India targeting terrorist infrastructure inside Pakistan since 2016. The first one was the surgical strike to eliminate terrorist training camps in PoK in 2016 in the aftermath of an attack on an Army garrison in Uri in which 19 Indian soldiers had been killed. In February this year, the Indian Air Force struck a terrorist training facility in Balakot in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakthunkwa province. This came after a suicide bomber blew up a bus carrying Indian paramilitary personnel in Pulwama killing 40.