Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar's brother-in-law Yusuf Azhar was killed when Jaish camps across the Line of Control were attacked by the Indian Air Force in a pre-dawn attack on Tuesday. Yusuf Azhar alias Mohammad Salim alias Ustaad Gohri was on the Interpol list and among the most wanted in India. The foreign secretary confirmed India struck the biggest training camp of JeM in Balakot. In this operation, a very large number of JeM terrorists, trainers, senior commanders and groups of jihadis who were being trained for fidayeen action were eliminated. This facility at Balakot was headed by Maulana Yusuf Azhar (alias Ustad Ghouri), the brother-in-law of Masood Azhar, the chief of Jaish-e-Mohammed.
JeM's Yusuf Azhar alias Mohammad Salim alias Ustaad Gohri who was targeted today by IAF #airstrike in Balakot across LOC was on the Interpol list and among the most wanted in India. pic.twitter.com/1eTj8FhFMJ— ANI (@ANI) February 26, 2019
India on Tuesday confirmed that it had carried out a non-military, pre-emptive air strike in Pakistan's Balakot, in a pre-dawn attack targeting the biggest training camp run by the Jaish-e-Mohammed, who had claimed responsibility of the attack on 40 CRPF personnel on February 14. Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale told a press briefing that the pre-emptive terror strike was conducted as there was credible intelligence that the JeM, which had carried out the recent Pulwama terror attack in Jammu and Kashmir, was plotting major strikes in various parts of the country.
“Credible intelligence was received that JeM was attempting another suicide terror attack in various parts of the country, and the fidayeen jihadis were being trained for this purpose,” Gokhale told the media.
In the face of imminent danger, a preemptive strike became “absolutely necessary”, the foreign secretary said.
Addressing the media at 11.30 am, he said the strike had been carried out by a “short while ago” and further details were awaited.
“In this operation, a very large number of JeM terrorists, trainers, senior commanders and groups of jihadis who were being trained for fidayeen action were eliminated,” he said.
The facility at Balakot, located in a thick forest on a hilltop far away from civilian presence, was headed by Maulana Yousuf Azhar, alias Ustad Ghouri, the brother-in-law of JeM chief Masood Azhar, he said, reading out from a statement.
The statement did not say if Yousuf Azhar was among those killed.
“The Government of India is firmly and resolutely committed to taking all necessary measures to fight the menace of terrorism,” the foreign secretary said.
The selection of the target, he said, was conditioned by the desire to avoid civilian casualties.
India, Gokhale said, expects Pakistan to dismantle all terror camps, including those of the JeM.
“ India has been repeatedly urging Pakistan to take action against the JeM to prevent jihadis from being trained and armed inside Pakistan. Pakistan has taken no concrete actions to dismantle the infrastructure of terrorism on its soil,” he said.
Earlier in the day, government sources said Mirage 2000 combat jets of the Indian Air Force bombed terror camps at multiple locations across the Line of Control in the Pakistani side. They said jets pounded the camps in Balakot, Muzaffarabad and Chakoti.
However, there was no independent confirmation of these reports and Gokhale made it clear that only one camp was struck in Balakot without mentioning the Mirage 2000 jets.
The JeM has been active in Pakistan for the last two decades and has its headquarters in Bahawalpur in Pakistan’s Punjab province, Gokhale said in the statement.