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Indian Airstrike on Jaish camp: What we know so far from IAF, Italian journalist, et al.

Indian Airstrike on Jaish camp: What we know so far from IAF, Italian journalist, et al.

India BloomsNews Service | @indiablooms | 04 Mar 2019, 02:10 pm

New Delhi, Mar 4 (IBNS): Days after India's post-Pulwama surgical strike in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK), the political and Indo-Pak row continues over how many actually were killed in the IAF bombings. While unconfirmed reports claimed zero to very heavy casualty with ruling party politicians in India claiming credits and opposition questioning their claims, here is what we know so far from some seemingly credible sources.

Italian Journalist Account:

Snubbing Pakistan's statement of no casualties in India's retaliatory airstrike after the Pulwama terror attack, an Italian journalist claimed around 40 to 50 militants were killed across the Line of Control (LoC) in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK), a Wion report said.

Italian journalist Francesca Marino, who describes herself as a specialist of South Asia on Twitter, said her sources confirmed the death toll was between 40 and 50 while 35-40 militants were injured.

"Yesterday I've got confirmations... 100% reliable confirmations," Marino has been quoted by Wion.

Marino's claim contradicts Pakistan's version as India's hostile neighbour denied any casualties in the airstrike.

In an article for Firstpost she wrote: "Eyewitnesses present at the site of India's 26 February bomb strikes against a Jaish-e-Muhammad base say they saw up to 35 bodies being transported out of the the site by ambulance hours after the attack. The dead, they recounted, included 12 men who were said to have been sleeping in a single temporary shack, and several individuals who had earlier served in Pakistan's military.

The sources, who work for local government authorities, declined to be identified as they are not authorised to speak to media, and said they feared reprisal. The eyewitnesses were contacted by this correspondent using encrypted communication."

However, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the ruling dispensation in India, is confident that the airstrike had hit military camp of Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), which had carried out the Pulwama attack that left at least 40 Indian paramilitary personnel martyred.

In a recent comment, BJP chief Amit Shah said over 250 militants were killed in the airstrike, resonating a section of Indian media's initial claims of killing 350 terrorists. But Shah gives no source of his claim and any such figure should come officially from the government and not any party president.

The Rome-based Italian journalist said her source stated that an ambulance came at the site of the airstrike after jets were hit and carried away the dead bodies. The cellphones of all staff in the ambulance were taken away.

Balakot is in Pakistan's north-western Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

Earlier, residents there told BBC Urdu they were woken by loud explosions.

Journalist Taha Siddiqui on Jaish Reaction:

Meanwhile, an audio clip has surfaced where a person, who is assumed to be Jaish chief Masood Azhar's brother, could be heard admitting that the Indian jets had hit the military training camp which is run by the terrorist organisation in Balakot.

"Let me remind you that the Indian aircrafts did not bomb the safe house of any agency, they didn’t attack any headquarters, they didn’t attack the meeting points of agencies (JeM), they attacked the schools where students were being trained to understand jihad better and vowed to help 'oppressed' Kashmiris. By entering our territories and attacking our schools, India has ensured the beginning of jihad against them," words in the audio clip has been quoted by Hindustan Times. 

Paris based self-exiled Pakistani journalist Taha Siddiqui also said Maulana Ammar, the brother of Azhar, also criticised Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan for releasing Indian Air Force pilot Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, who was shot down and captured by Pakistan in a dogfight a day after the airstrike.

Ammar also urged Pakistanis to join "Jihad in Indian-administered Kashmir".

Siddiqui wrote in The Print: "It is unclear who the main speaker in the audio clip is, but the recording begins with an introduction of the chief guest of the event – Mufti Abdul Rauf Asghar, the brother of Masood Azhar, the chief of Jaish-e-Mohammed, and thanks him for his presence.

"Sources in Peshawar said that the audio is from an event held in Peshawar city on Thursday evening at a mosque on G.T. Road called Masjid wa Madrassah Sanan bin Salma."

Unable to tell actual figure, says IAF:

Air chief Marshal BS Dhanoa said it is not possible for the Air Force to count the number of terrorists killed in the airstrike, which took place on Feb 26 and hit its target.

Air chief Marshal BS Dhanoa said on the Balakot strike in a press conference: "We don't count human casualties. We can't count how many people have died. It depends on how many people were there."

"We planned to hit the target, we hit the target," he said, adding that only the government can give the figure.

Dispute over Kashmir:

India and Pakistan have been engaged in a bilateral tension since 1947, the year in which India got its independence from the British regime, over Jammu and Kashmir, the northern state of India.

Both India and Pakistan holds only a part of Kashmir but fought three wars since 1947 (1947, 1965 and 1971- besides a limited conflict in 1999 known as Kargil War.

Pakistan, a new nation, was created on Aug 14, 1947 with the independence of India.

Indian Airstrike on Jaish camp: What we know so far from IAF, Italian journalist, et al.

India BloomsNews Service
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