New Delhi: It came out of the blue on Sunday -- A major counter-offensive, after Pakistan's unprovoked firing, in which 6 to 10 Pakistani soldiers have been killed. The claim was made by none other than Army Chief Bipin Rawat.
At the receiving end of the heavy artillery strike, he said, were four terror launch pads and several Pakistani military positions in Neelam Valley in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir.
The retaliation came a day after Pakistan military resorted to firing in Tangadhar sector along the Line of Control, in a bid to push terrorists across the LoC.
Two Indian Army personnel died in the incident -- Hawaldar Padam Bahadur Shrestha and Rifleman Gamil Kumar Shrestha. A civilian also died and three others were injured. There was no clarity about the number of terrorists who perished.
According to one highly-placed source, at least 20 of them were killed. The source also indicated that the figure may go up.
The retaliation has caused substantial harm to the terrorist infrastructure across the Line of Control and three launch pads have been razed to the ground, Rawat told reporters.
It is believed that 10-15 terrorists were holed up in each of the facilities at the time of the attack.
Meanwhile, Pakistan Foreign Office spokesman Mohammad Faisal denied that the Indian Army had targeted terror camps in POK said it can arrange a visit of diplomats to the area to expose Indian "falsehood".
The spokesperson of Pakistan Military, Major General Asif Ghafoor, in turn, claimed that nine Indian soldiers were killed and two Indian bunkers had been destroyed. A senior Indian Army official rejected Ghafoor's allegations and claim.
Pakistan, as a part of its elaborate charade, also summoned Indian envoy Gaurav Ahluwalia to condemn the firing.
Rawat said, "Ever since the abrogation of special provisions (for Jammu and Kashmir), we are getting inputs about infiltration by terrorists from across the border to trigger unrest.’’
The sources said the pounding of Pakistani positions and terror camps cannot in any way be compared to surgical strikes carried out by the Indian Army in September 2016 on terror launch pads across the Line of Control.
However, the offensive was the most significant one after India carried out the Balakot strike in February. Rawat said that the political leadership has been kept abreast of the developments in Jammu and Kashmir.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh was keeping an eye on the evolving situation. The developments in Jammu and Kashmir have come a day before Rajnath Singh and Rawat are slated to visit Ladakh for opening a strategic bridge near the Line of Actual Control with China along the newly-constructed all-weather motorable Leh-Karakoram road.
Till October 10 this year, Pakistan has violated ceasefire in Jammu and Kashmir for 2,310 times. As per the Army, 147 terrorists have been killed till October 10 in various operations in the hinterland and along the LoC.