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Operations launched after Pakistan refused to take action against terror launch pads, say officials

In the overnight operation of attacking terror “launch pads” in Pakistan occupied Kashmir, para-commandos of the Army, struck at as many as seven locations, possibly more, and exacted casualties in “double digits”, officials privy to the operations tell The Hindu. Photographs and videos of the operation will be released soon, sources confirmed.

According to officials present at one of several briefings given by the military, MoD and MEA in the course of Thursday morning, the Army was given the go-ahead for a “counter-terror operation” in the aftermath of the Uri attack.

“The government gave the Army a free hand to plan and carry out the attack,” a senior member of the government said. Even before the Uri attack, the Army was concerned by what they saw as a build-up at the terror “launch pads” just across the LoC.

“Despite repeated requests from the government to Pakistan’s High Commissioner, the warnings were not taken seriously,” MEA officials said. The government has pointed to 19 infiltration attempts in the past two months along similar routes in four sectors along the LoC, but say they met with no support from Pakistan.

“This was in response to specific intelligence inputs. No aerial strikes were undertaken. The Pakistan Army has accepted that they lost two of their soldiers and that nine were injured. Usually, the Indian Army fires from the Indian side of the LoC on such infiltrators after they cross over the LoC. The launch camps are temporary in nature, unlike training camps. It is where infiltrators gather before crossing over,” Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore told The Hindu shortly after the DGMO announced the strikes to the media.

Officials said heavy casualties were inflicted on the militants present in the terror camps. According to one source, some of the troops crossed the LoC on foot, while others flew in on Mi-17 gunship helicopters that also gave the Indian commandos cover from fire. However, Rathore denied the story, saying helicopters had not crossed the LoC and were not involved in the operation.

Meanwhile, with dawn and the safe return of the para-commandos, the government began to work the phones, DGMO Lt Gen Ranbir Singh called his Pakistani counterpart to say that the strikes were over and India didn’t intend to escalate the conflict. The Prime Ministeri and the Cabinet Committee on Security were briefed, as were President Pranab Mukherjee, Vice President Hamid Ansari, former Prime Ministers Manmohan Singh and H.D. Deve Gowda.

Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj spoke to their counterparts in all Security Council member countries and key countries in West Asia to inform them of the operation.

According to Pakistan’s Defence Minister Khwaja Asif military spokesperson, two Pakistani soldiers were killed and 9 were injured. Pakistan’s DG, Inter Services Public Relations, said they hwere killed in crossfire at the LoC. “There has been no surgical strike by India, instead there had been a cross border fire initiated and conducted by India which is existential phenomenon,” the spokesperson said.

(with inputs from Puja Mehra)
http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/behind-the-scenes-of-the-crossloc-attack/article9163217.ece?homepage=true

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