NEW DELHI: India Thursday said it conducted "surgical strikes" Wednesday night on “terrorist launch pads" inside Pakistan controlled Kashmir, marking a steep rise in tensions between the two nuclear-armed rivals.
Both sides offered sharply conflicting accounts, however, underscoring the heightened suspicions and volatility in an area that has been at the heart of India-Pakistan friction for decades.
The news of the attacks was given at a hurriedly summoned news conference at noon by the director general of military operations, Lt. Gen. Ranbir Singh, who only read from a prepared statement.
"Significant casualties have been caused to terrorists and those trying to shield them. We don't have a plan to further conduct such strikes. India has spoken to Pakistan," Singh said. "The strikes were launched on Wednesday based on very specific and credible information that some terrorist units had positioned themselves with an aim to carry out infiltration and terrorist strikes."
Singh said he had called his Pakistani counterpart to inform him of the operation.
However, no details of the operation were given nor was any Ministry of Defence (MoD) official available to officially discuss the details of the operation and whether Indian forces crossed over the LOC.
“India’s claims of surgical strikes are baseless,” Asim Bajwa, spokesman of Pakistan army said in a statement. “There has been no surgical strike by India, instead there had been cross border fire initiated and conducted by India.”
The media military wing added, “As per rules of engagement same was strongly and befittingly responded by Pakistani troops”.
The exchange of fire took place in the Bhimber, Hot Spring, Kel and Lipa sectors, and lasted about six hours early on Thursday, the military’s media wing said.
Indian DGMO meanwhile sought to downplay talk of a full fledged war and sought the support of the Pakistan Army in erasing the menace of terrorism.
“We do not have any plans to continue. However the Indian armed forces are fully prepared to deal with any contingency which may arise. I have spoken to Pakistani DGMO and expressed our concern. It is India’s intention to maintain peace and tranquillity in the region but we cannot certainly allow terrorists to operate across the Line of Control with impunity and attack our citizens,” said the DGMO.
However military analysts in TV studious were cautioning nation of impending war.
“The operation has the capability of starting a military escalation and even a full-fledged war between two nuclear capable neighbors",said Mahindra Singh, a retired Indian Army major general.
In further signs of a deepening crisis, evacuations were ordered in villages on both sides of the Line of Control dividing Kashmir.
Earlier on Thursday morning, Army officials briefed Prime Minister Narendra Modi about the security situation, at a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Security. A meeting the Prime Minister due to hold on reviewing the Most Favored Nation (MFN) status to Pakistan was postponed to next week, the Prime Minister's Office said.
The government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been under pressure from within and outside his party to respond to an attack on Sept. 18 on an Indian Army base at Uri, near the LOC, that killed 18 soldier
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