India’s Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale said Indian Air Force jets conducted airstrikes against a militant training base in Balakot, Kashmir, on Tuesday.
According to an Indian government source, some 300 militants were killed in the strikes.
Pakistan, however, has denied that there were any casualties.
The camp is believed to belong to a Pakistan-based militant group, the so-called Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), which claimed responsibility for an attack on an Indian security convoy in Pulwama, in Indian-administered Kashmir, on February 14. That attack killed more than 40 Indian troops.
But, while India had promised to retaliate that attack, Gokhale said Tuesday’s airstrikes were “preemptive.”
“In the face of imminent danger, a preemptive strike became absolutely necessary,” the Indian foreign secretary said.
He further said that the existence of such training facilities “could not have functioned without the knowledge of the Pakistani authorities.”
Earlier in the day, Pakistan said India violated its airspace when its military jets crossed the Line of Control (LoC) in Kashmir.
Pakistani military spokesman Major General Asif Ghafoor said on Twitter early on Tuesday, that Indian aircraft “release payload in haste, while escaping, which fell near Balakot. No casualties or damage.”
He said Indian jets faced “timely and effective response from Pakistan Air Force.”
Ghafoor also posted four pictures on his Twitter account that purportedly showed the bombarded site. They showed what appeared to be a bomb crater in a forest area.
Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi also reacted to the airstrikes in a Twitter message, calling on New Delhi not to challenge Pakistan.
Pakistan ‘to respond at time, place of its choosing’
Later in the day, Pakistan’s National Security Committee (NSC) also rejected claims by India that it had struck “terror camps” inside the country.
It also vowed to “respond at the time and place of its choosing.”
The committee, comprising top officials, including Prime Minister Imran Khan and army chief Qamar Javed Bajwa, also said Khan will “engage with global leadership to expose irresponsible Indian policy.”
This is believed to be the first time India’s Air Force has crossed into Pakistan since 1971.
The confrontation comes amid rising tensions between Islamabad and New Delhi in the wake of a deadly bomb attack on an Indian security convoy in Pulwama, in Indian-administered Kashmir, on February 14. The attack, which was claimed by a Pakistan-based militant group, Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), killed more than 40 Indian troops.
Reacting to the attack at the time, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that those behind the bombing “have to pay a heavy price.”
An Indian commander then accused Pakistan’s main intelligence agency, the ISI, of having been involved.
A senior Indian military commander says Pakistan’s main spy agency has been involved in a recent deadly bombing in Kashmir that killed many Indian troops.
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan, who denied Islamabad’s involvement in the attack, vowed to retaliate any attack by India.
India and Pakistan have long been at loggerheads over the disputed region of Jammu and Kashmir. They have fought four wars since their partition in 1947, three of them over Kashmir.
Pakistan is widely accused of arming and training militants.
The Indian military incursion now risks sparking a conflict between the two nuclear-armed rivals, which partitioned in 1947.