NEW DELHI – Hundreds of militants are ready to cross from Pakistan to India after Islamabad relaunched a terrorist camp in Balakot, the Indian army said. An air strike on Balakot led the two nations to the brink of war in February.
“Balakot has been reactivated by Pakistan very recently,” Indian Army Chief of Staff General Bipin Rawat told reporters on Monday.
The general said the camp in northeastern Pakistan was destroyed by Indian jets in February, but “now they have taken people there.”
“These numbers are still fluctuating, but I would say so – there are at least 500 people waiting to infiltrate India,” he said.
Additional troops were sent along the Control Line (LoC) in the disputed Kashmir region “to ensure that infiltration is controlled to the fullest,” the military commented.
Balakot’s air strike almost drove the neighboring countries to war. India claims to have sent the jets to bomb terrorist camps belonging to the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) jihadist group on Pakistani soil. The group had already carried out a number of deadly attacks against India, including a convoy bombing in the Kashmir-controlled Pulwama district that killed 40 military police.
Indian officials accused Pakistan of secretly supporting the militants. Islamabad vehemently denies having ties to terrorist groups.
Pakistan has also denied that Indian air strikes near Balakot caused ground damage and accused New Delhi of violating its sovereignty. Hostilities turned into cross-border bombing and open air combat. An Indian pilot was shot down in Pakistani airspace and quickly delivered unharmed by Pakistan to India.
The neighbors would eventually exchange a series of friendly gestures, but their relations nevertheless reached a new low last month after India revoked the self-governing status of its controlling Kashmir. New Delhi argued that the move will help fight terrorism and boost the region’s economy.
Pakistan has strongly criticized the measure, saying it violates international law and will lead to bloodshed in Kashmir.