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Target terror: India strikes across LoC

An Indian Border Security Force soldier looks at the Pakistan side of the border through a binocular at Ranbir Singh Pura, about 35 kilometers (22 miles) from Jammu, India, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2016. Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in a speech Saturday that in the last four months, Indian security forces have killed more than 100 terrorists who crossed over the cease-fire line in Kashmir from Pakistani territory. (AP Photo/Channi Anand)   | Photo Credit: Channi Anand

India has carried out surgical strikes targeting “launch pads” for terrorists across the Line of Control (LoC), the Army said on Thursday. The strike was carried out on Wednesday night, senior military and diplomatic sources said at a hurriedly called media briefing at the Ministry of External Affairs.

“Based on very specific and credible information which we received yesterday that some terrorist teams had positioned itself along the line of control, the Army carried out surgical strikes last night at these launch pads. The operations were focused to ensure that these terrorists do not succeed in endangering lives of citizens in our country. During the counter-terrorist operations, significant casualties have been caused to the terrorists and those who were trying to support them. The operations have since ceased,” Director General of Military Operations (DGMO) Lt. Gen Ranbir Singh said.

He sought the support of the Pakistan Army in erasing the menace of terrorism. Pakistan has responded to the government statement saying there has been "no such strike."

“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.

The attack comes in the wake of the September 18 terror strike in Uri that claimed the lives of 18 Indian soldiers.

The DGMO pointed out that during the investigation of the terror attack, the proof of involvement of Pakistani elements was clearly discovered.

India tried to solve the situation from the Uri attack at the diplomatic level but did not receive an adequate response, he said. 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.

In a statement on its website, the DG-Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) of the Pakistani Army said that there was a major exchange of fire overnight, in which two Pakistani Rangers were killed. “Pakistani troops befittingly responded to Indian unprovoked firing in Bhimber, Hotspring, Kel and Lipa sectors which started at 0230 and continued till 0800,” the Pakistani military spokesperson claimed.

The updates:

8.35 pm: Kashmir ‘unfinished agenda of partition’, Nawaz Sharif says

Mr. Sharif says that Kashmir was “unfinished agenda of partition” and Pakistan would continue to provide support to Kashmiris in their struggle for self-determination.

“Jammu and Kashmir dispute is an unfinished agenda of the partition of the sub-continent,” says the Prime Minister, who according to several statements by the Pakistan PMO, spent a hectic day, consulting his aides on the security situation and attending briefings by security institutions on the LoC situation.

8.10 pm: India shared only a piece of paper on Uri attack, cl;aims Pakistan Foreign Office

Pakistan claims that India has not shared any evidence about the assault on an Army camp in Uri while accusing New Delhi of blaming others for terror attacks. Pakistan Foreign Office spokesman Nafees Zakaria says Pakistan would wait for any investigation by India into the Uri attack.

7.50 pm: Moderate faction of the Hurriyat Conference headed by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq asks India and Pakistan to de-escalate tensions along LoC.

The Hurriyat spokesman says the two nuclear neighbours should behave maturely and “instead of confrontations which can only be disastrous for the entire region engage in serious dialogue to resolve issues and bring peace”.

7.35 pm: U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon’s spokesperson stresses the need for India and Pakistan to resolve differences through dialogue.

Stephane Dujarric refuses to comment on comparisons between Kashmir and the situation in Syria and the situation between the two Asian neighbours when rersponding to repeated queries by a Pakistani reporter whether the U.N. chief will talk to the leaders of India and Pakistan and offer his good offices during the current atmosphere of escalating tensions and with “Pakistan and India are now getting ready to go to war.”

6.50 pm: DGMO Lt. Gen. Ranbir Singh briefs all-party meeting on the strikes. Representatives of the Congress, the NCP, the CPI(M), the BSP, the Shiv Sena, the LJSP and the TDP attend the meeting besides BJP chief Amit Shah, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar and Information and Broadcasting Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu.

All political parties unanimously supported the Army action, which was carried at 5-6 important places across LoC along Kupwara and Poonch in Jammu and Kashmir at an altitude of 6,000 feet and some of these terror launch pads were destroyed, says Naidu after the hour-long meeting.

6.45 pm: Rupee loses 39 paise — its biggest single-day fall in three months — against the U.S. dollar to close at 66.85. Sensex closes with a loss of 465.28 points at 27,827.53 points.

6.40 pm: The Army has also launched a search for terrorists along the LoC in Rajouri district of J&K after the Indian and Pakistani militaries exchanged fire.

“Search operations have been started in Mendhar sector following the ceasefire violation by the Pakistan Army,” a Jammu police official says.

He says searches were mounted to find out if terrorists have sneaked into India under the cover of Pakistani fire at Indian positions in Mendhar sector of LoC around 4 a.m.

6.35 pm: BSF on high alert, to augment personnel

BSF has put all its units along the International Border on “high alert”. BSF HQ has issued orders to all its units along the IB in Jammu, Punjab, Rajasthan and Gujarat to step up vigil and bolster numbers at posts by bringing in all personnel who are in the reserve.

Members of the public have not been allowed to witness the Attari-Wagah beating retreat ceremony from the stands right next to the designated border pillar in Punjab.

Officials say BSF has also restricted civilian movement along borders with Pakistan.

The border force has also been asked by the Centre to provide manpower to local administration for helping in evacuating people from border villages to safer locations.

Officials say border units have been asked to undertake special patrols and conduct ambushes.

The force has also been asked to augment the number of personnel and officers who work under the operational command of the Army at the LoC in Jammu and Kashmir.

6.30 pm: Meanwhile, a Special Police official has been injured in an encounter near the LoC in Poonch district.

“The encounter is going on in Mankote forest belt (near LoC) in Poonch district,” a senior police officer says adding adding intermittent firing is still on.

6.20 pm: PoK President Sardar Masood Khan condemns “the unprovoked cross-LoC fire” that resulted in killing of two Pakistan soldiers. “India’s conduct is irresponsible and designed to escalate the situation and push the region towards war and strife,” he says in a statement.

5. 45 pm: The overnight operation in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir was carried out by para-commandos of the Army, who crossed over the Line of Control to strike as many as seven locations, possibly more, and exacted casualties in “double digits”, officials privy to the operations tell The Hindu. Photographs and videos of the operation will be released soon, >Suhasini Haidar reports.

5.35 pm: China has signalled that it's actively engaged in defusing tensions between India and Pakistan, using multiple channels, to prevent a spillover of friction between New Delhi and Islamabad in the region, our Beijing Correspondent Atul Aneja reports.

5.30 pm: Bangladesh says India has right to respond to attack on sovereignty

India has “all legal and globally accepted right” to respond to any attack on her sovereignty and territory, Iqbal Chowdhury, advisor to Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina says. “Bangladesh always feels that in these type of things, there should be restraint from all sides because we believe that in the SAARC countries, we need to live in a peaceful environment, honouring the sovereign rights of each member country,” he adds.

5.15 pm: The surgical strikes targeted 5-6 places across the LoC along Kupwara and Poonch. No casualty on the Indian side, says Venkaiah Naidu, adding that terrorists' plans to attack some towns and important places prompted the Army to act.

5.05 pm: External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj meets Congress president Sonia Gandhi to brief her about the Army’s surgical strikes. In a statement, the Congress chief said a “strong message” has been sent with the surgical strikes, while insisting that Pakistan bears a “great responsibility” in the continuing cross-border attacks in India.

4.50 pm: Industry leaders say it's time to act tough, rule out want any negative impact on economy and trade.

4.40 pm: Modi's colleagues continue to shower praise on him and the Army for the “surgical strikes”.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley terms the “surgical strikes” a preemptive action.

Minister for Law and IT Ravi Shankar Prasad says "this is an example of India's commitment and firm will power to fight against terrorism from across the border".

Minister for Power, Coal, Renewable Energy and Mines Piyush Goyal hails the military for the operation.

4.39 pm: J&K Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti expresses grave concern over escalation of situation along the State’s borders with Pakistan. She urges restraint, saying an India-Pakistan confrontation could lead to disaster of epic proportions.

4.35 pm: Our Diplomatic Affairs Editor Suhasini Haidar has this observation about the ISI statement on India's "surgical strike".

4.30 pm: Pakistan Air Force says it is ready ‘to combat external aggression’

The Pakistan Air Force (PAF) has said it is vigilant at all times and ready to combat any external aggression, IANS reports quoting a PAF spokesperson.

The statement is in response to the “unprovoked” firing by Indian forces across the LoC, the spokesperson says adding India’s claim that it was a “surgical strike” is based on a “fabricated lie”.

The PAF will protect Pakistan’s air limits at any cost, the spokesperson quoted by IANS said.

4.26 pm: Cross LoC trade continues at Uri. 26 trucks from India cross over, while 10 from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir come in.

4.16 pm: In a tweet, BJP president Amit Shah says, “I congratulate Modi and Indian Army for surgical strikes on terror launch pads in Pakistan occupied Kashmir”.

4 pm: There will be no public participation in the ceremonial Beating Retreat at Wagah border.

3.55 pm: Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal has convened an emergency meeting with senior govt. officials in Chandigarh. He has directed officials to start evacuation in border districts. He has asked Deputy Commissioners of Ferozpur, Fazilka, Amritsar, Taran Tarn, Gurdaspur, and Pathankot districts to identify suitable location for setting up camps for residents. (Inputs from Vikas Vasudeva)

3.35 pm: High alert sounded in Gujarat's border districts of Kutch and Banaskantha in the wake of the surgical strike: Gujarat's Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel. Fishermen asked to not go near the international maritime boundary line on the coast, says Mr. Patel. (Inputs from Mahesh Langa)

2.50 pm: The Inter Services Public Relations of Pakistan says India's action was no surgical strike at all.

"There has been no surgical strike by India,instead there had been cross border fire initiated and conducted by India which is existential phenomenon. As per rules of engagement same was strongly and befittingly responded by Pakistani troops. The notion of surgical strike linked to alleged terrorists bases is an illusion being deliberately generated by Indian to create false effects.This quest by Indian establishment to create media hype by rebranding cross border fire as surgical strike is fabrication of truth. Pakistan has made it clear that if there is a surgical strike on Pakistani soil, same will be strongly responded," It said in its official Facebook page.

2.45 pm Pakistan’s Defence Minister Khawaja M. Asif says that if India attempts this again, Pakistan will retaliate.

2.40 pm: The BJP hails the armed forces, lauds the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying his government believes in action and not words.

“A salute to the armed forces and to the leadership of the Prime Minister for securing our borders and defending from Pakistan-sponsored terrorism. A responsible government acts and talks less. And that has been the practise of this government under Modi’s leadership,” party’s national secretary Sidharth Nath Singh said.

2.35 pm: Villages in Punjab near the International Border are being evacuated.

2.30 pm: The operation’s range was between 2 and 3 km across the LoC, PTI reports quoting sources.

2.22 pm: PTI reports quoting sources that seven terror launch pads were targeted during the strike. According to the sources, a combination of heliborne and ground forces carried out the operation, which began after midnight and ended around 4:30 a.m. on Thursday.

2.05 pm: President Pranab Mukherjee, Vice-President Hamid Ansari and former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh have been briefed on the strikes, IANS reports quoting sources. Jammu and Kashmir Governor N.N. Vohra and Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti have also been briefed, the report adds.

1:55 p.m: Congress MLA Randeep Surjewala on the strikes:

1:50 p.m: National president of BJP Amit Shah congratulates Modi and the Indian Army.

1.40 p.m.: Home Minister Rajnath Singh calls an all-party meeting at 4 p.m.

1.32 p.m: More reactions coming in. Former Karnataka Chief Minister responds to the strikes.

1.30 p.m: BJP leader Satish Upadhyay responds to the surgical strikes.

1.20 p.m.: Responding to the Indian government’s statement that security forces conducted a surgical strike across the Line of Control on Wednesday night, Pakistan said there was no such strike.

“Instead, there had been cross-border fire initiated and conducted by India which is existential phenomenon. As per rules of engagement, same was strongly and befittingly responded by Pakistani troops,” said a Pakistan government statement.

Pakistan said: “The notion of surgical strike linked to alleged terrorists bases is an illusion being deliberately generated by Indian to create false effects. This quest by Indian establishment to create media hype by rebranding cross border fire as surgical strike is fabrication of truth. Pakistan has made it clear that if there is a surgical strike on Pakistani soil, same will be strongly responded.” - Devesh K. Pandey

1.15 p.m.: Home Minister informs Chief Ministers of Punjab, Bengal, Odisha, CPI-M's Sitaram Yechury and Congress' Ghulam Nabi Azad about surgical strikes.

1.05 p.m.: Sensex crashes 555 points and Nifty slides about 170 points in noon trade after reports of surgical strikes against Pakistan.

1 p.m.: Nawaz Sharif responds:

Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif strongly condemns the ''unprovoked and naked aggression of Indian forces resulting in martyrdom of two Pakistani soldiers along the LOC''.

Mr. Sharif pays rich tributes to the martyred jawans. He says, ''our intent for peaceful neighbourhood should not be mistaken as our weakness as our valiant forces are fuly capable of defending the teretotrial integrity of country and can thwart any evil design made to undermine the sovereignty of Paksitan."

(With inputs from news agencies)

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