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India says many militants killed in Kashmir retaliation strike

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Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor 
Payload of hastily escaping Indian aircrafts fell in open

India said air force jets hit a training camp of Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), the militant group that claimed credit for a February 14 suicide bombing attack that killed Indian paramilitary police in Kashmir, a mountainous region also claimed by neighboring Pakistan.

Before the airstrike, foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt on Monday spoke to external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj and Pakistani minister of foreign affairs Shah Mehmood Qureshi, and "strongly condemned" the attack in Pulwama on February 14.

Swaraj stressed during talks in China with her counterparts from Beijing and Moscow that "no military installations were targeted" in the air raid, and the target was selected to avoid civilian casualties.

"Facing timely and effective response from Pakistan Air Force (the Indian aircraft) released payload in haste while escaping near Balakot".

The air strikes, which India says killed many militants, will escalate military tensions between the nuclear-armed rivals.

Modi has been under pressure to retaliate since the suicide vehicle bombing in Kashmir's Pulwama, which India alleges was orchestrated by Pakistan's intelligence agency, and tensions between the nuclear-armed neighbors have escalated in recent days.

Pakistan Air Force jets were scrambled in response to the incursion, Ghafoor said.

He said if India provided "actionable intelligence" regarding the Pulwama attack that proved Pakistani involvement, "we will immediately act".

Ghafoor claimed the missiles came down in an "open area" and caused no material damage or casualties.

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An Indian paramilitary solider fires tear gas shell towards Kashmiri protesters in Srinagar, Indian controlled Kashmir, Feb. 26, 2019. Gokhale underlined that the action was not directed at the Pakistani military and described it as a "non-military preemptive action".

"...no Indian movie will be released in Pakistan", he tweeted.

Meanwhile, experts say the prevailing situation involving Kashmir is worrying for the entire region, as both India and Pakistan are regional powers with large arsenals of conventional and nuclear weapons.

"We saw fallen trees and one damaged house, and four craters where the bombs had fallen", said Mohammad Ajmal, a 25-year-old who visited the site.

A fleet of Mirage 2000 deep-penetration fighter jets was chosen for the pre-dawn strike on the biggest terror camp of the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terror outfit in Pakistan due to the combat aircraft's capabilities of hitting long-range targets with "pin-point" accuracy and dropping a range of bombs and missiles including laser-guided ones, government sources said.

There was no immediate explanation for the differing accounts, although India and Pakistan routinely contradict one another.

Bangladesh and other countries in this region can think of a concerted effort to diffuse the tension between India and Pakistan, Imtiaz suggested.

Since 1989, rebels have been fighting against Indian control in Kashmir. New Delhi has accused Pakistan of granting safe haven to the Jaish-e-Mohammad terrorist groupthat carried out the attack.

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