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Kashmir

India launches airstrikes in Pakistan-controlled Kashmir

On Tuesday, Indian fighter jets dropped bombs in Pakistan-controlled Kashmir, killing a "very large number" of Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) militants, including senior commanders, Indian Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale said. "The strike avoided civil casualties," and struck the terrorist group's "biggest training camp" in the Balakot region of Kashmir, on the edge of the part of the divided region that Pakistan controls. Both nuclear-armed nations claim the entire mountainous region and have fought two wars over it; these were the first airstrikes to cross the line of control since the last war, in 1971.

The airstrikes were in retaliation for a Feb. 14 bombing that killed at least 40 Indian paramilitary police in Kashmir; JeM claimed responsibility for that suicide bombing, the deadliest such attack since a Kashmir insurgency broke out in 1989. "Credible intel was received that JeM was planning more suicide attacks in India," Gokhale said. "In the face of imminent danger, a pre-emptive strike became absolutely necessary."

Before India confirmed striking inside Pakistan's part of Kashmir, Pakistani military spokesman Maj. Gen Asif Ghafoor had said Pakistan scrambled jets to intercept the Indian aircraft, and the Indians "released payload in haste." Balakot police chief Saghir Hussain Shah told The Associated Press that based on his team's assessment of the mostly deserted wooded area, "there are no casualties, there are no damages on the ground because of the dropping of the bombs."