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IAF strikes 'major terrorist camp' in Pakistan's Balakot: All you need to know about town that's home to JeM's oldest training camp

Pakistan's armed forces on Tuesday claimed that Indian Air Force jets had "intruded from the Muzzafarabad sector" and "dropped a payload" near Balakot in Mansehra district in Pakistan. The Pakistani forces' spokesperson Major General Asif Ghafoor said that the Pakistan Air Force had responded quickly and "effectively".

"Indian Air Force violated Line of Control. Pakistan Air Force immediately scrambled. Indian aircrafts gone back. Details to follow,” Major Ghafoor tweeted. "Indian aircrafts intruded from Muzzafarabad sector. Facing timely and effective response from Pakistan Air Force released payload in haste while escaping which fell near Balakot. No casualties or damage,” he followed up.

 IAF strikes major terrorist camp in Pakistans Balakot: All you need to know about town thats home to JeMs oldest training camp

Representational image. Google maps

However, ANI quoted IAF sources as saying that a "major terrorist camp" across the Line of Control (LoC) was struck and "completely" destroyed. "1,000 kilograms of bombs were dropped on terror camps across the LoC," the source is quoted as saying.

Where is Balakot?

Earlier, confusion prevailed after initial reports about the strike because there are two towns named 'Balakot' in the same area. However, it is confirmed that the IAF struck Balakot in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa area of Pakistan, which is a crucial area near the LoC between India and Pakistan and has been the site of cease-fire violations in the last two or three years.

Balakot is also one of the Jaish-e-Muhammad terror outfit's oldest terrorist camps, according to sources. It has found mention in many past criminal cases in India and abroad. There was limited physical infrastructure of the launch pad at the base — witnesses have spoken of a main tin-roof shed, a small mosque and several earth houses.

JeM chief Masood Azhar reportedly wrote the Fath-ul Jawwad, his disquisition on the Quranic basis of jihad, during a retreat at Balakot.

He sought inspiration from the memory of Islamic revivalists Syed Ahmed Barelvi and Shah Ismail, who were killed in 1831 after waging an unsuccessful insurgency against the Sikh empire.

The city was ravaged by an earthquake of magnitude 7.6 in October 2005. A report by BBC said, "The earthquake had affected the northern regions of Pakistan, Afghanistan and India. An estimated 75,000 people were killed, mostly in Pakistan-administered Kashmir."

In March 2018, Pakistan had said its "policy of restraint" on the LoC should not be treated as a sign of weakness and warned India of a “befitting response” in case of any misadventure. Foreign Office spokesman Mohammad Faisal made the remarks during his weekly media briefing in Islamabad.

“The Pakistani forces have exerted great restraint but this restraint should not be construed as a sign of weakness. Any Indian misadventure on the LoC and Working Boundary can lead to a strategic miscalculation,” he said. “While we advise restraint to the Indian side, our military is ready to give a befitting response. We shall choose the time and place of our response,” he said.

Follow LIVE updates on the IAF operation here

With inputs from agencies

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Updated Date: Feb 26, 2019 12:03:57 IST