The airstrike by Indian Air Force on Balakot terrorist camps in Pakistan on February 26 is considered as a watershed moment in India’s response to cross-border terrorism. However, while Pakistan has always maintained that the airstrike did no real damage, naysayers in India too doubted its impact. Now fresh details have emerged in this regard with a report by Italian journalist Francesca Marino, putting all such doubts to rest.
Quoting reliable sources, Francesca Marino has claimed that the airstrike killed anywhere between 130 and 170 Jaish-e-Mohammad terrorists on the spot while another 20 succumbed to wounds later. The dead include 11 trainers, two of whom were from Afghanistan.
Within hours of the strike, Pakistan Army personnel reached the spot and the injured were transported to a Harkat-ul-Mujahideen camp in Shinkiari for treatment. Francesca Marino also says about 45 are still under treatment and those who have recovered are yet to be released from the Army custody.
Marino’s report claims that the families of the dead were given compensation in order to prevent leaking of news on casualties in airstrike.
According to the journalist, the camp area is out of bound for even local police as it is still under the control of Pakistan Army. And the freshly made signboard at the foothill now points to the presence of Taleem-ul-Quran atop the hill, instead of any link to the Jaish.
On February 14, a Kashmir-born Jaish terrorist carried out a suicide attack on the convoy of Indian security personnel, killing 40 CRPF jawans at Pulwama in Jammu and Kashmir. Indian Air Force responded to the dastardly attack by conducting airstrike on Jaish camp in Balakot.
India has also succeeded in getting the support of big nations to get Jaish chief Masood Azhar on the UN Security black list. The UN body proscribed Azhar a global terrorist, on May 1.