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Wednesday, Nov 13, 2019

Indian report says bombs hit target, but silent on casualties

An assessment report put together by the Indian Air Force and intelligence agencies, which includes satellite photographs, shows that Indian fighter jets destroyed most of the targets they went after in the Jaish-e-Mohammed camp in Balakot, Pakistan, but is silent on the number of casualties.

india Updated: Mar 12, 2019 07:17 IST
Sudhi Ranjan Sen
Sudhi Ranjan Sen
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Pakistani soldiers and media personnel gather at the site where the Indian Air Force (IAF) strike launched on a Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) camp at Balakot on February 26, 2019.
Pakistani soldiers and media personnel gather at the site where the Indian Air Force (IAF) strike launched on a Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) camp at Balakot on February 26, 2019.(AFP file photo)
         

An assessment report put together by the Indian Air Force and intelligence agencies, which includes satellite photographs, shows that Indian fighter jets destroyed most of the targets they went after in the Jaish-e-Mohammed camp in Balakot, Pakistan, but is silent on the number of casualties. Hindustan Times has seen a copy of the report.

There has been intense speculation about the efficacy of India’s February 26 pre-emptive strike on the Jaish facility to prevent the terrorist group from carrying out more suicide attacks in India after the February 14 one in Pulwama that killed 40 Indian troopers.

Among the targets destroyed were a guest-house where Maulana Masood Azhar, his brothers Adul Rauf Azhar and senior functionaries of the banned terror group Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) usually stayed while visiting the camp and a Markaz or hostel for JeM’s trainee terrorists, according to the report. The airstrike was so precise that a mosque at the center of the 0.67 Sq Km complex was untouched because India didn’t want it to be destroyed.

The Markaz adjoins a firing range where to be JeM terrorist were taught to handle weapons, and make and trigger Improvised Explosive Devices, (IED). IAF has backed the satellite images with Radar and Electro-optical imagery, a senior officer in the security establishment said, asking not to be identified because he is not authorized to speak to the media.

Also read | ‘We kept quiet, but Pakistan began crying at 5 am’: PM Modi on Balakot strike

Other satellite photographs, dating several days after the strike show the two targeted buildings being repaired. “Journalists, prevented from going to the JeM facility till now, will soon be allowed,” a second senior official in the security establishment said on condition of anonymity. Hours after the strike, the Pakistan Foreign Ministry denied the aerial strikes were effective and said journalists would be allowed to visit the facility once the weather improved. To date, no journalists have been allowed to visit the Jaish camp.

The satellite pictures that are part of the report (and seen by HT) show entry holes of the Israeli made S-2000 bombs fired by the French made Mirage -2000 fighters from the Line-Of Control (LoC) in the assault that lasted 160 seconds only. “They (the fighters) took 160 seconds, they got into position, released the weapons and turned around,” a third senior official familiar with the assessment report said.

The Markaz, a U-shaped single storey building seems to have taken the maximum punishment according to the pictures . The bulding, with three separate areas, was hit by at least two S-2000 bombs and all three were hit, according to the report.

Each S-2000 bomb used had over 100 grams of explosives in the tail for activating the warhead after it penetrated the concrete. Each carried about 76 Kg of Net Explosive Quantity. “The debate about whether the building should have collapsed because of the impact is irrelevant, it depends on the kind of explosive used and what kind of weapon was fired,” the third official added.

“Our assessment shows that there was clear hit and weapons did the job,” the third official said.

“If we plan to hit the target we hit the target, otherwise why would (Pakistan) have responded; if we dropped the bombs in the jungles, why would (Pakistan) respond,” Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa said on March 4 when asked whether IAF hit the targets.

Also read | ‘Balakot strike was done for sole purpose of winning Lok Sabha elections’: Farooq Abdullah