New Delhi: The Indian Air Force carried out strikes on Jaish-e-Mohammed’s biggest terror training compound in Balakot in Mansehra district of Pakistan’s Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa in the early hours of Tuesday.
Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale confirmed the “non-military pre-emptive” strike in a statement: “In an intelligence led operation in the early hours of today, India struck the biggest training camp of JeM in Balakot. In this operation, a very large number of JeM terrorists, trainers, senior commanders and groups of jihadis who were being trained for fidayeen action were eliminated. This facility at Balakot was headed by Maulana Yousuf Azhar (alias Ustad Ghouri), the brother-in-law of Masood Azhar, chief of JeM.
“The Government of India is firmly and resolutely committed to taking all necessary measures to fight the menace of terrorism. Hence this non-military preemptive action was specifically targeted at the JeM camp.”
ThePrint accesses satellite imagery to find the possible target of the IAF’s strike.
On the possible location of the strike, Gokhale had said: “The selection of the target was also conditioned by our desire to avoid civilian casualties. The facility is located in thick forest on a hilltop far away from any civilian presence. As the strike has taken place only a short while ago, we are awaiting further details.”
His words seem to indicate a facility at the top of a hill called Jaba Top, near the town of Jaba, located between Balakot and Mansehra. The camp was about 65 km from the LoC and was housing roughly 200-300 terrorists at the time of strike.
The camp covered an area of almost 50 hectares, and was deeply hidden from most visual surveillance.
Satellite images of the possible target indicate many barracks of 40m x 30m in size, as well a ground measuring about 100m x 25m. The dense-foliage covered camp had six barracks and each barrack was two or three storeys. Sources said the entire complex was destroyed in the attack.
There also stood a large access control building some distance away, on the main road coming towards the camp site.
It must be mentioned here that this location is merely a possibility, given Foreign Secretary Gokhale’s description of the target. The government of India has not yet indicated the precise location of the strike.
With inputs from Snehesh Alex Philip
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