With most of the world distracted by President Trump's second summit meeting with Kim Jong Un in Hanoi, tensions between two nuclear-armed powers flared roughly 2,000 miles West in the contested border region of Kashmir.
In retaliation for one of the deadliest terror attacks in the history of the long-running Kashmiri insurgency - earlier this month, a Muslim ‘mujahidin’ drove a car loaded with explosives into a bus packed with Indian paramilitary soldiers, killing more than 40 - Indian fighter jets carried out a tactical strike on what the Indian government described as a training camp for the militant group Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), killing more than 300 militants and infuriating the government in Islamabad, which condemned the attack and insinuated that it could launch a counter-strike of its own, with Prime Minister Imran Khan warning the nation of 200 million and its armed forces to "remain prepared for all eventualities."
Unsurprisingly, the two countries offered contrasting descriptions of the attack. Here's more from Al Jazeera:
Indian fighter jets on Tuesday crossed into Pakistani territory, conducting what the foreign ministry in New Delhi termed a "non-military pre-emptive action" against armed group Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), dramatically escalating tensions between the nuclear-armed neighbours weeks after a suicide attack in the disputed Kashmir region.
Pakistan reported the Indian airspace incursion, with military spokesman Major General Asif Ghafoor saying its air force jets were scrambling to respond, forcing the Indian aircraft to "release [their] payload in haste while escaping".
Indian Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale, however, asserted that the jets had hit their target, and that "a very large number of JeM terrorists, trainers, senior commanders and groups of jihadis who were being trained for fidayeen action were eliminated".
Bloomberg described the attack as "the worst escalation" between the two countries since 2001, when India and Pakistan moved ballistic missiles and troops to the contested border following an attack on India's parliament in New Delhi.
Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi accused India of violating the line of control during a televised press conference.
"India has committed aggression against Pakistan today - I will call it a grave aggression," Qureshi said.
As we reported earlier, Rand Corp estimated a decade ago that a nuclear exchange between India and Pakistan would kill two million people immediately, and another 100 million during the ensuing weeks. Major water sources in the two countries would be contaminated. Clouds of radioactive dust would blow around the globe.
And there are a few key aggravating factors that differentiate this incident between other recent flareups along South Asia's most contentious border: Looming elections in India have made the Hindu nationalist government in New Delhi fearful of being perceived as "soft" on Muslim terrorists. And in response to India's clearly superior conventional weapons heft, Pakistan has refused to rule out the possibility of using tactical nuclear weapons if confronted with a superior military threat.
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