Pak expected surgical strike in PoK, no clue of IAF attack deep inside: Sources


New Delhi: The Indian Air Force on Tuesday bombed a terror camp at Balatkot in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province killing about 350 terrorists. The camp, located 20 kms from Balakot town, was being used to house terrorists and their trainers, who were shifted from various parts of the Pak-occupied-Kashmir following the Pulwama suicide bomb attack, sources said.

Claiming that the facility was accommodating at least 325 terrorists and 25 trainers, sources said the resort-style camp was located on a hilltop forest, making it “a sitting duck target” for the Indian forces.

Everyone at the camp was sleeping and Pakistani defence establishment had no clue that the attack was coming so deep into their country because they had expected a surgical strike on camps near the Line of Control (LoC) in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir, said the sources close to the government.

India had recently received intelligence that JeM had shifted many in-training terrorists and hardcore operatives, along with their trainers, to the Balakot camp, which has facilities for 500 to 700 people, and even had cooks, cleaners and a swimming pool.

Fighter and other aircraft took off from several air bases in Western and Central commands at about the same time, leaving Pakistani defence officials confused as to where they were heading, the sources said.

A small group of aircraft soon broke away from the swarm and headed to Balakot where “the sleeping terrorists were sitting ducks for the Indian bombing,” said a source. “They had no idea that Balakot was to be the target … when the pictures come in you will see only khandhar (ruins) of the once-flourishing camp.”

The pre-dawn operation by IAF’s 12 Mirage 2000 fighter jets saw 1000 kg bombs being dropped at the target. “The selection of the target was also conditioned by our desire to avoid civilian casualties. It’s located in a deep forest on a hilltop,” Indian foreign secretary Vijay Gokhale said.

The attack was termed a “non-military pre-emptive strike” by Gokhale who hoped that Pakistan will now live up to its promise of fighting terror and destroy the remaining infrastructure of the terror groups.