India Is Said to Conduct Airstrikes in Pakistan-Controlled Territory
NEW DELHI — Indian warplanes conducted airstrikes in Pakistan-controlled territory on Tuesday, Pakistan’s military said, after a suicide attack in the Kashmir region this month that India blamed on Pakistan.
A spokesman for Pakistan’s armed forces, Maj. Gen. Asif Ghafoor, on Tuesday posted on Twitter four images of a forested area pockmarked with small craters and debris, which he said was the site of Indian airstrikes.
The Indian news media, quoting local military officials, said Indian Mirage 2000 fighter jets dropped bombs on a terrorist camp in Pakistan-controlled territory at 3:30 a.m. local time.
Jets from Pakistan confronted the Indian aircraft, and no casualties or damage were reported, General Ghafoor said. The planes had dropped the bombs near Balakot, which is close to the disputed border of India and Pakistan.
“Facing timely and effective response from Pakistan Air Force released payload in haste while escaping which fell near Balakot,” General Ghafoor wrote.
Tensions have escalated in the disputed Kashmir Valley region after a Feb. 14 attack by a suicide bomber who drove an explosive-filled vehicle into a convoy of Indian troops. At least 40 soldiers were killed, the deadliest attack in the region in decades. India blamed Pakistan for the assault.
Though India and Pakistan routinely shell each other across what is known as the Line of Control, this is the first time in years that either side has deployed warplanes to venture into disputed territory.
Western security officials have raised questions about the existence of a large-scale training camp, saying that Pakistan no longer runs such camps and that militant groups are spread out in small groups around the country.
In recent days, residents have fled the area as hundreds of Kashmiris have been arrested and Indian troops have moved more troops into the region. But analysts have said tensions between the two nuclear-armed rivals are unlikely to erupt into full-scale war.
India controls much of Kashmir, while Pakistan controls a smaller part of the region, which was left in an undetermined state after the British partition of India in 1947. It has seen decades of violence from militants seeking independence.