170 JeM terrorists killed in Balakot strike: Italian journalist

New Delhi: The airstrike by the Indian Air Force at the terror training camp at Pakistan’s Balakot on February 26 killed between 130 to 170 JeM terrorists, according to an Italian freelance journalist.

Quoting local sources, Francesca Marino wrote on Stringerasia that after the IAF strike at around 3.30 a.m., a Pakistan Army unit arrived at their location from their camp in Shinkiari at around 6 a.m., two and a half hours later.

“Immediately after the Army unit’s arrival, the injured were taken to a Harkat-ul-Mujahideen camp, located in Shinkiari and treated by Pakistan Army doctors.

“The numbers estimated (to be killed) have ranged from 130-170, including those who have died during treatment,” she said, adding that around 45 were still undergoing treatment in this camp, while around 20 have died during treatment.

Those who have recovered were still in custody of the Army and have not been discharged, she wrote on the site, which identified her as a freelance journalist, specialising in South Asian affairs.

Marino added that from different inputs from her sources over the last several weeks, it could be safely said that the impact of the strike immediately killed a large number of JeM cadres.

Giving details about those killed, she said that they included 11 trainers, ranging from bomb-making to to use of weapons. Two of these trainers were from Afghanistan.

To prevent the news on the fatalities leaking through family members, the Italian journalist wrote that a group of JeM members visited the families and handed over cash compensation to them.

“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,” she wrote.

Marino also said that there was also talk about the JeM leadership having assured its cadres that the group would take its revenge when the time was ripe.