NEW DELHI — India claims it conducted "surgical strikes" Wednesday night on suspected terrorists preparing to infiltrate from "launch pads" across the Line of Control (LOC) — the de facto boundary between India and Pakistan in the northern state of Jammu and Kashmir.
The news of the attacks was given at a hurriedly summoned news conference here at noon on Thursday by the Indian Army's 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."
A statement on the website of India's Press Information Bureau read: "Based on receiving specific and credible inputs that some terrorist teams had positioned themselves at launch pads along Line of Control to carryout infiltration and conduct terrorist strikes inside Jammu and Kashmir and in various metros in other states, the Indian Army conducted surgical strikes at several of these launch pads to pre-empt infiltration by terrorists."
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.
The operation has the capability of starting a military escalation and even a full-fledged war between two nuclear capable neighbors, according to Mahindra Singh, a retired Indian Army major general.
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 soldiers.
"The surgical strikes have fully achieved the aim of the Indian defense planners," said Rahul Bhonsle, a retired Indian Army brigadier and defense analyst.
"First aim was to send a strong signal to Pakistan that India will not be restrained and will retaliate to any trans border strikes with a strong military response at the place and time of its choosing; the second was a punitive strike on terrorist launch pads to neutralize presence of these close to the LOC," Bhonsle said.
However, Bhonsle disagreed with Singh's take on the strike. "Yes, some retaliation by Pakistan is anticipated, but this will not lead to a full-fledged war because the Pakistan political and military leadership is divided and will not be able to pose a united front."