India bombs Pakistani base as tensions escalate

For first time since 1971, Indian aircraft strike targets inside Pakistan, drawing promises of 'retaliation'.

David Rosenberg ,

Pakistani F-16 fighter jet
Pakistani F-16 fighter jet

Tensions between India and Pakistan flared overnight amid the largest escalation on the subcontinent in years.

On Tuesday, Indian air force fighters carried out an airstrike on a facility in Pakistan, which the Indian government claimed was used to house and train terrorists responsible for attacks on Indian targets. The strikes are the first by Indian aircraft inside Pakistani territory since the 1971 India-Pakistan war.

India’s foreign affairs secretary Vijay Gokhale said the Indian air force strikes had “eliminated” a “very large number” of Pakistani terrorists in the strike. Indian said the camp was run by the Jaish e-Mohammed terror group, which has been accused of carrying out the February 14th suicide bombing attack in Pulwama in the Indian Kashmir which killed 40. Four Indian soldiers were killed in fighting with Pakistani terrorists days after the bombing.

But Pakistan denied the site bombed by India was used by terrorists, castigating India for the attack.

"This action has been done for domestic consumption being in election environment, putting regional peace and stability at grave risk," Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan’s office said in a statement.

Pakistan vowed to retaliate for the airstrikes “at the time and place of its choosing.”

“India has committed uncalled for aggression to which Pakistan shall respond at the time and place of its choosing," the Pakistani premier’s office said.

On Wednesday, Pakistan confirmed that it had carried out several air raids on targets in Indian-administered Kashmir in retaliation for the Indian air strikes.

"Today, Pakistan Air Force undertook strikes across Line of Control from within Pakistani airspace," the Pakistani foreign ministry said in a statement.

Four airports were closed in northern Indian in response to the escalation, Al Jazeera reported.

Pakistan also claimed that it had shot down two Indian air force fighter jets, and that one of the pilots had been captured.

India disputed the claim, saying that all of its pilots were accounted for.

According to a report by The Indian Express citing high-level Indian sources in Jammu and Kashmir, three Pakistani F-16 fighter jets crossed the Line of Control, entering Indian-controlled airspace, but were forced to retreat by Indian Air Force aircraft.