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India Says It Will Not Share 'Operational Details' Of Air Strike Inside Pakistan


Indian security forces pose with the national flag and pictures of Indian Air Force pilot Abhinandan Varthaman during an event to pray for his return, at Kalikambal temple in Chennai on March 1.

An Indian government minister says New Delhi will not share proof that a large number of militants were killed in a compound inside Pakistan late last month, after Islamabad raised doubts that any insurgents were harmed in the air strike.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, a top ally to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on March 2 said that "no security agencies ever share operational details."

"It's a very irresponsible stand," Jaitley told a news conference.

India on February 26 launched what it called a “preemptive” air strike against Pakistan-based militants following a suicide bombing in India-administered Kashmir earlier in the month that killed at least 41 Indian paramilitary personnel.

The Pakistan-based Jaish-e Muhammad (JeM) militant group claimed responsibility for the February 14 attack.

India said the raid against the compound used by JeM killed "a very large number" of militants, with some estimates reaching 400.

Pakistani officials dismissed the claims that the site was a terror base, saying Indian aircraft had dropped their bombs in a wooded area, causing no damage or casualties.

Pakistani officials and some Indian opposition leaders have asked New Delhi to share evidence of the results of the strike.

"The armed forces must have, and our security and intelligence agencies must have, a full leeway in dealing with situations, and if anybody wants operational details to be made public...he certainly does not understand the system," Jaitley said.

Indian Air Force officials have said it was up to political leaders to decide if evidence of the strike is made public.

Tensions and violence have resumed between the two bitter rivals after potentially hopeful signs emerged that the latest crisis over the divided Himalayan territory of Kashmir was easing.

On March 1, Pakistan released a captured Indian pilotin what its prime minister said was a “peace gesture.”

That came after Pakistan's military said its air force shot down two India Air Force jets in its airspace and captured a pilot on the ground in Pakistan-administered Kashmir on February 27.

India confirmed the loss of one of its MiG-21s and the capture of its pilot. It said it also foiled an attack by Pakistan warplanes over Kashmir and shot down one Pakistani plane. Islamabad denies any of its aircraft were shot down.

However, Indian and Pakistani forces continued their fierce artillery barrages across the Line of Control (LoC) that acts as a de facto border in the disputed Kashmir region, with several deaths.

The United States and other global powers, including China, have urged both sides to exhibit restraint to prevent a major conflict from breaking out between the two nuclear nations.

Pakistan and India have fought two of their three wars over Kashmir since their independence from British rule in 1947. Both sides claim all of the Muslim-majority divided territory.

With reporting by Reuters and AP

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