Breaking News: India launches air strikes in Pakistan

India says it launched air strikes against militants in Pakistani territory, in a major escalation of tensions between the two countries.

The government said strikes targeted a training camp of the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) group in Balakot.

Indian Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale told a news conference that the strikes had killed a “large number” of militants, including commanders, and had avoided civilian casualties.

This morning India’s National Investigation Agency (NIA) conducted raids on the residences of several Hurriyat leaders in Srinagar, as crackdown continues in Indian-occupied Kashmir amid worsened relations between Pakistan and India.

According to local media, NIA raided the residences of senior Hurriyat leaders including detained Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) chief Muhammad Yasin Malik, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Muhammad Ashraf Sehrai and Kashmir Democratic Freedom Party chairman Shabbir Ahmed Shah.

It also conducted similar raids on the houses of Tehreek-e-Hurriyat chairman Muhammad Ashraf Sehrai, Salvation Movement chairman Zafar Akbar Butt and Dr Nayeem Gilani, the son of All Parties Hurriyat Conference chairman Syed Ali Gilani.

Pakistan’s army spokesman Major General Asif Ghafoor said the strikes caused no casualties. He tweeted that Pakistani jets were scrambled and forced the Indian planes to make a “hasty withdrawal”, dropping their payload in an open area.

The situation in occupied Kashmir has worsened in the aftermath of the February 14 Pulwama attack which killed at least 40 Indian soldiers.

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