Balakot airstrike revised death toll | 35 dead including Col Salim, Jaish trainer Moeen Mufti & Usman Ghani

balakot air stikes

The dead included 12 men |These men were said to be sleeping in a temporary shack | Many of these individuals had earlier served in Pakistan military

The Hush Post| 15.00 am |two-minute-read|

A revised figure has come about the number of deaths in the Balakot air strikes by India four days ago. According to eyewitnesses present at the site where India bombed Jaish-e-Muhammad base, 35 bodies were seen being transported out of the site by ambulance hours after the attack.

The dead included 12 men. These men were said to be sleeping in a temporary shack. Many of these individuals had earlier served in Pakistan military. The revised story of the destruction of Jaish camp but with only 35 deaths was first reported by journalist Francesca Marino, an Italian journalist, who has an extensive base of sources in South Asia. The story was subsequently carried by the First Post.

“Local authorities reached the site soon after the bombing,” one witness said, “but the area had already been cordoned off by then by the army, who did not even allow police to enter. The army also took away mobile phones from the medical staff on the ambulances.”

A former Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) officer known locally as “Colonel Salim” was killed in the bombing while a “Colonel Zarar Zakri” was injured.

Mufti Moeen, a Jaish-e-Muhammad instructor from Peshawar, and improvised explosive device-fabrication expert Usman Ghani were also killed in the bombing.

The largest single cluster of fatalities, the eyewitnesses said, were 12 Jaish-e-Muhammad fidayeen trainees. These Jaish men were living in a single temporary earth-and-wood building that was destroyed in the bombing.

IAF has asserted that that synthetic aperture radar — which provides finer spatial resolution — reveals that they destroyed 4 targets below the ridge

Many of the witnesses who said otherwise were only interviewed days after the attack, and several media outlets reported that they were not allowed unfettered access to all areas in Jaba, the village targeted in the raid.

Satellite imagery conducted by Nathan Ruser of the prestigious Australian Strategic Policy Institute concluded that there is “no apparent evidence of more extensive damage and on the face of it does not validate Indian claims regarding the effect of the strikes.”

However, Indian Air Force has asserted that that synthetic aperture radar — which provides finer spatial resolution than conventional beam-scanning radar — reveals that they destroyed four target buildings below the ridge, where the Jaish-e-Muhammad has several buildings, including a seminary.

The images, however, have not been made public, making it impossible to independently verify these claims.

Islamabad has said the Indian raid caused little damage, other than to local vegetation.

Indian intelligence sources said two of the names mentioned by the eyewitnesses — Usman and Colonel Salim — had also figured in communications intelligence available.

At an intelligence assessment meeting held on 1 March, India’s Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW) said its communications intelligence could confirm five dead, but placed estimates of the killed in the region of 20.

RAW had identified the Jaba top seminary as a target, based on intelligence that personnel earlier stationed by the Jaish-e-Muhammad at villages along the Line of Control had been pulled back to that location, in anticipation of possible Indian Army retaliation after the Pulwama suicide bombing.

“There’s no doubt that bombs hit their targets,” a senior intelligence official said. “Though some of the numbers that have been appearing in the media are hyperbolic, I think the raid served its purpose, which was to make a point about our ability to strike at terrorist safe-havens, rather than extract revenge.”

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