Top sources have said to Republic TV that over 245 foot soldiers and terrorists who were undergoing training at Jaish-e-Mohammed, Lashkar-e-Toiba and Hizb-ul-Mujahideen terror camps at Balakote, Muzaffrabad and Chakothi in Pakistan were neutralised in the Indian Air Force's pre-dawn strike across the LoC on Tuesday.
Sources added that while the top senior commanders of the Jaish-e-Mohammed had been moved out of Balakot in the past few days in anticipation of India's reprisal for the Jaish-perpetrated Pulwama terror attack in which 40 CRPF Jawans were martyred, India decided to proceed with the strike nonetheless as deciding to destroy the permanent structure of the JeM and cull the source of the terrorists.
Addressing reporters in the Indian government's first reaction following the strike, Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale confirmed that India had received credible intelligence that the JeM was planning more suicide bombing attacks and that India had pre-emptively hit the biggest Jaish terror training camp in Balakote. He also confirmed that Masood Azhar's brother-in-law Ustad Ghauri led the facility:
"Credible intelligence was received that Jaish-e-Mohammed was attempting another suicide terror attack in various parts of the country & fidayeen jihadis were being trained for this purpose. A pre-emptive strike became important. In an intelligence lead operation in the early hours today, India struck the biggest training camp of Jaish-e-Mohammed in Balakot. In this operation, a very large number of JeM terrorists, trainers, senior commander & groups of Jihadis were eliminated. This facility in Balakot was headed by Maulana Yusuf Azhar alias Ustad Ghauri, brother in law of JeM Chief Masood Azhar"
The strike by 12 Mirage 2000 fighters of the Indian Air Force was conducted shortly after 3:30 am on February 26, i.e. pre-dawn on Tuesday, lasting 21 minutes in all, with all the IAF's assets returning safely. It came 12 days after the Jaish-e-Mohammed-perpetrated Pulwama terror attack on a CRPF convoy in which 40 Jawans were martyred.
Omar Abdullah highlighted the significance of the strike on Balakote specifically, writing the following: