Balakot air strike killed 130-170 Jaish cadres: Italian Journalist

Around 45 people are still undergoing medical treatment following the IAF strikes on the Jaish-e-Muhammed terror training camp in Pakistan’s Balakot, while the bombings could have killed between 130-170 JeM cadres, including 11 terror “trainers”, according to Italian journalist Francesca Marino.

Marino says in her report that despite Pakistan’s efforts to deceive the world, details of what happened at Balakot on February 26 have trickled in. She said that according to a source, a Pakistan army unit from Shinkiari reached the location at 6 am, two and a half hours after the strikes. “Shinkari is around 20 km from Balakot, and the Army unit would have taken around 35-40 minutes to reach the location from where the climb to the camp begins. Incidentally, Shinkiari is also a base of the Pakistan Army, with the Junior Leaders Academy located there,” said Marino writing for online magazine Stringer Asia.

Marino claims the injured were taken to a Harkat-ul-Mujahideen camp at Shinkiari and treated by Pakistan Army doctors. “Local sources say around 45 persons are still undergoing treatment in this camp, while around 20 have died during treatment due to serious injuries. Those who have recovered are still in custody of the army and have not been discharged.”

She has said information from her contacts clearly indicated that the strike immediately killed a large number of JeM cadres. “The numbers estimated have ranged from 130-170, including those who have died during treatment. Those killed included 11 trainers, ranging from bomb makers to those imparting weapons training.”

While the casualty figure at Balakot has been subject to heated speculation, Pakistan army has so far refused access to the Jaish complex to any one. Some journalists have been taken to vicinity of the strikes but no one has been able to interview those who were at the camp or continue to be there.

“Two of the trainers were from Afghanistan. To prevent news on fatalities leaking through statements of family members of cadres, a group of JeM members also visited the families of those killed and handed over cash compensation to them,” she wrote.

Marino writes that adjacent to the Blue Pine Hotel, located at the foothill from where the trek to the Jaish camp begins, is a freshly painted signboard indicating presence of the Taleem-ul-Quran on the hilltop. “Unlike the earlier board, all links to JeM leader and now internationally proscribed terrorist Masood Azhar has been removed. The camp area is still under the control of the army, with a Captain rank officer of the Mujahid battalion in command.”

Access to the dust track to the camp is still restricted, even to local police. Apart from a few children and 3-4 teachers, the camp has been cleared of any traces of it being a JeM camp.

No comments: