The Indian army said it had conducted “surgical attacks” across the de-facto border between the two countries to foil a “terrorist attack,” according to India’s Director General of Military Operations.
But Pakistan insisted that no incursion had taken place into the territory it controls, saying there had only been an exchange of fire. It promised a “forceful response” if there was a repeat of the operation.
India said it had acted to protect its citizens. Lieutenant General Ranbir Singh told reporters on Thursday the strikes had been based on “specific credible information” that militants were planning to carry out strikes in Indian cities, including Jammu.
“The operations were basically focused to ensure that these terrorists do not succeed in their design of infiltration and carrying out destruction and endangering the lives of citizens in our country,” he said.
It was one of the deadliest attacks to take place on an army base in Kashmir since militant attacks began in 1989, and sparked a furious war of words between India and Pakistan.
Pakistan leader slams ‘evil designs’
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif condemned the latest attack in a statement, calling it “unprovoked and naked aggression” of Indian forces.
He said Pakistan’s forces were capable of defending their territory and would stop any “evil design” against their country.
Pakistan’s Defense Minister Khawaja Asif said the country’s army had responded in a “befitting” manner.
“If India tries to do this again we will respond forcefully. India is doing this only to please their media and public,” he said.
‘Fear and tension’ in Kashmir
In a statement, Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry condemned the incident, saying India’s claims to have carried out surgical strikes were “baseless” and accusing India of “deliberately” escalating tensions.
“Such falsified, concocted and irresponsible statements can only escalate the already fragile security situations in the region,” the statement said.
Kashmir, a Muslim-majority region, has been disputed territory between India and Pakistan for the past 70 years.
Both of the nuclear-armed countries hold separate parts of it and have fought two wars, in 1948 and 1965, over their claims. They came close to a third, in 1999.
Speaking to CNN on Thursday, a resident of Indian-administered Kashmir, Mushtaq Ahmad Chaudhary, said border residents had not forgot the horror of having shells and bullets raining down on their communities.
“The latest developments have set in the fear and tension as the deteriorating situation may trigger cross [border] artillery duels [such as] we have witnessed during the 1990s when several villagers were killed and wounded,” he said.
India, Pakistan threats mostly empty: analyst
Despite both sides’ fierce rhetoric, it was unlikely there would be a military escalation at this point, IHS Global Insight analyst Asad Ali told CNN.
“What I would say is that the Pakistani generals are very much ready to use nuclear weapons, at least three strategic nukes, if there is a major border incursion (from India),” he said.
Ali said both the Indian and Pakistani governments were playing to their domestic audiences, as much as each other.
“The Pakistan military can’t betray to their domestic audience that they’ve allowed the Indians to actually cross the line of control by as many as 12 kilometers and there was no action against that,” he said.
“On the Indian side, Modi needs to show his domestic constituents that he’s taken aggressive action. This is something he promised before he got elected in 2014.”
CNN’s Sophia Saifi reported from Islamabad and Huizhong Wu reported from New Delhi. Mukhtar Ahmad contributed to this report for CNN.