In surgical strike, Army says inflicted significant casualties on terrorists, their backers

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New Delhi | Published: September 30, 2016 6:50:56 AM

In the first military response to the September 18 terror attack on an army camp in Uri where 18 soldiers died, the Indian Army announced on Thursday that it had carried out “surgical strikes” in the early hours of the day to destroy seven...

The army said “significant casualties” were inflicted among the “terrorists and those providing support to them” but gave no count of the dead. (PTI)The army said “significant casualties” were inflicted among the “terrorists and those providing support to them” but gave no count of the dead. (PTI)

In the first military response to the September 18 terror attack on an army camp in Uri where 18 soldiers died, the Indian Army announced on Thursday that it had carried out “surgical strikes” in the early hours of the day to destroy seven launch pads along the Line of Control (LoC) where teams of terrorists had positioned themselves.

The army said “significant casualties” were inflicted among the “terrorists and those providing support to them” but gave no count of the dead.

This is the first time that New Delhi has officially acknowledged a military strike in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir — cross-LoC operations in the past have never elicited any official response. It also signals a rapid deterioration in ties with Pakistan in the wake of the Uri attack which Prime Minister Narendra Modi promised would not go unpunished.

Randhir Singh, director general of military operations (DGMO), told reporters in New Delhi: “The operations were focused on ensuring that these terrorists do not succeed in their design to cause destruction and endanger the lives of our citizens.” The operations, he said, have since ceased and the Indian Army does not have plans for further continuation.

Surgical strike graph

The announcement was made after an urgent meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Security Thursday morning.

Sources said the military operation was led by the Special Forces which had been kept ready for the past one week for such an action, with extensive rehearsals of various contingency plans.

The operation, which commenced past midnight, was successfully completed by 4.30 am. But the Special Forces soldiers had been positioned into the forward bases of the LoC by helicopters around 2 pm on Wednesday.

The final go-ahead for the operation, sources said, was given at a meeting on Wednesday evening at the PMO between the prime minister and defence minister Manohar Parrikar. The three service chiefs had briefed Parrikar before his meeting with the PM.

To confuse and distract the Pakistan Army, sources said the Indian Army opened fire at various sites across the LoC before the Special Forces soldiers moved on foot at two points in Kupwara and Poonch sectors to target the launch pads. The Pakistani forces, sources said, were taken by surprise, and responded near dawn by shelling Indian posts on the LoC.

The launch pads targeted in the operation had been kept under extensive surveillance for the past one week, sources said. The operation was launched, the DGMO said, on “receiving specific and credible inputs that some terrorists had positioned themselves” at these launch pads.

“During these counter-terrorist operations, significant casualties were caused to terrorists and those providing support to them”, Singh said.

In a statement, the Pakistan Army said it had lost two soldiers in firing “on the LoC in Bhimber, Hotspring, Kel, and Lipa sectors. Exchange of fire which started at 0230 hrs after midnight continued till 0800 hrs.” The DGMO said he had spoken to his Pakistani counterpart and informed him of the operation.

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