Surgical strike again: 3 terror camps destroyed in PoK, says Army chief

New Delhi: The army launched attacks on terror camps located inside Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir today, in which three camps were destroyed and six to 10 soldiers of the Pakistan army were killed.

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Giving details of the operation, Army chief Bipin Rawat said terror launch pads in Neelam valley — opposite the Tangdhar sector of Kupwara – were destroyed. The artillery strike was in retaliation to the support provided by Pakistan Army to push terrorists into the Indian territory.

“On the basis of the reports that we are getting, 6 to 10 Pakistani soldiers have been killed, three terrorist camps have been destroyed. A similar number of terrorists have also been killed,” General Rawat said.

General Rawat said an attempt was made by terrorists to infiltrate though Tangdhar on Saturday evening. “We have picked up definite information that some of the terror camps north of Pirpanjal are active. The terrorists have arrived in these camps… in that they are likely to infiltrate,” he  said.

As Pakistan opened fire, Indian troops retaliated, he said. “But before they could attempt the infiltration…It was decided that we target their terror camps. We had the coordinates for these camps… In the retaliatory action, we have caused severe damage to terrorist infrastructure. Terrorist camps opposite the Tangdhar sector have been destroyed,” he added.

Two soldiers and a civilian died in the ceasefire violation by Pakistan. Three others were also injured in the attack, which took place after midnight.

The Army, sources said, retains the right to respond at a time and place of its choosing, in case the Pakistan Army continues to assist terror activities across the border.

The armed forces’ last hit on terror launch pads was in February after the Jaish-e-Mohammed terror strike in Pulwama. On that occasion, the Air Force had targeted a Jaish camp in Pakistan’s Balakot. In September 2016, the army had carried out surgical strikes on terror launch pads across the Line of Control.

Clarifying that today’s attack cannot be equated with a surgical strike or a Balakot type strike as it was a step lower in the escalation matrix, sources said it was “significant escalation” that was meant to send out a “strong signal” to the Pakistan Army.

By hitting the positions of Pakistani artillery positions, a “clear message was sent that their concealed positions are under observation and will be targeted if there is support to terror,” the sources said.

Sources said lately, the terror camps have been trying to push terrorists into Indian territory – part of Pakistan’s plan to destabilise the situation in Jammu and Kashmir, following the Centre’s move in August to end the state’s special status and bifurcate it into two Union Territories. The army said most of these efforts have been foiled, but it has not ruled out the possibility of a few slipping in.

Pakistan has been making repeated attempts to flag Kashmir at international forums, but its efforts have not been successful so far.

Through September, Pakistan drones have dropped weapons across Punjab. A report to the Home Ministry said intelligence officials detected as many as eight drone sorties. The possibility of undetected sorties has not been ruled out either.

On each sortie, the drones have dropped packages weighing up to 10 kg, which could have been arms, explosives, or means of communication, like cell phones or satellite phones, the report said. Intelligence agencies have also said Pakistan’s state actors were responsible for this.

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