Italian journalist claims 170 JeM terrorists were killed in Balakot air strikes; 45 injured

A general view of a building, which according to residents was a madrasa (religious school) is seen near the site where Indian military aircrafts struck on February 26, according to Pakistani officials, in Jaba village, near Balakot, Pakistan, March 7, 2019. REUTERS/Akhtar Soomro

An Italian journalist has claimed that the Balakot air strikes of Februay 26 killed around 170 JeM terrorists. Journalist and author Francesca Marino, in a piece published in STRINGERASIA.IT has said the strike carried out by India “immediately killed a large number of JeM cadres.”

The airstrike on a Jaish-e-Mohammed training camp in Balakot led to the death of 130-170 JeM recruits, Marino has claimed.

“Those killed included 11 trainers, ranging from bomb makers to those imparting weapons training. Two of these trainers were from Afghanistan,” Marino wrote.

Francesca Marino also claims that 45 of the injured JeM cadres are still undergoing treatment at the military camp. 20 have succumbed during the treatment, she added.

PAK ARMY ARRIVED AT LOCATION SOON AFTER

Quoting sources, Marino said a Pakistani Army unit from Shinkari arrived at the location two-and-half hours after the bombing.

“Immediately after the Army unit arrival, the injured were taken to a Harkat-ul-Mujahideen camp, located in 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 wrote.

She added that JeM members visited families of those killed and handed over compensation in cash to “prevent news on the fatalities leaking.”

CAMP REVAMPED

Marino has also described the area around the place of strike. The foothill from where the trek to the JeM camp starts, now has a freshly painted signboard that indicates the presence of the Taleem-ul-Quran on the hilltop, she says. However, all links to JeM leader Masood Azhar have been removed, she said.

“The camp area is still under the control of the Army, with a Captain rank officer of the Mujahid battalion in command. The access to the dust track leading to the camp is still restricted, even to the local police. Apart from a few children and 3-4 teachers, the camp has been cleared of any traces of it earlier being a JeM camp,” she wrote.

Notably, Pakistan has been continuously claiming that it suffered “no damage” in the Balakot air strike. The Imran Khan government also offered Indian journalists a visit the area to “see the truth”.

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