Indian jets crossed into Pakistani territory on Tuesday (February 26), and carried out air strike on “terror camps,” local media reported.
The confrontation follows a growing rift between the arch-foes since a February 14 suicide bombing in the disputed Kashmir region, claimed by a Pakistani-based militant group, killed at least 40 Indian paramilitary police. New Delhi blamed Islamabad, which denies having a role in the attack.
Pakistan downplayed Tuesday’s incident, saying there were no casualties and that Indian jets “released a payload” hastily in a forest area after crossing Kashmir’s Line of Control (LoC), which acts as a de facto border between the two countries.
“Air Force carried out aerial strike early morning today at terror camps across the LoC (Line of Control) and completely destroyed it,” India‘s minister of state for agriculture, Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, said on Twitter.
Pakistan’s military confirmed Indian aircraft violated its airspace but said “no infrastructure got hit.”
“Indian aircrafts intruded from Muzafarabad sector,” Pakistani military spokesman Major General Asif Ghafoor said on Twitter early on Tuesday, referring to an area in the Pakistan-administered part of Kashmir.
Balakot, a town in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province in Pakistan, is about 50 km (30 miles) from the Line of Control (LoC) in Kashmir, which was the cause of two of the three wars India and Pakistan have fought since the end of British colonial rule in 1947.
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.
The attack was claimed by Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), prompting India to accuse Pakistan of harboring the militant group. Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan denied his country was involved and offered to help investigate the attack if any credible evidence was provided.
Indian television channels quoted unidentified government sources as saying multiple targets were destroyed during the air raid into Pakistan involving a dozen Mirage aircraft.