Laser Bombs Caused ‘Internal Damage’, Say Sources After Report Claims Balakot Camp Still Standing
Officials said the IAF has handed the government radar and satellite images that showed significant damage at the Balakot camp of the Jaish-e-Mohammed.
A cropped version of a satellite image shows a close-up of the camp in Balakot, Pakistan on March 4, 2019. (Image: Planet Labs Inc./Handout via REUTERS)
New Delhi: The Indian Air Force has given the government radar and satellite images that showed bombing of the "intended targets" at the JeM terrorist training camp in Pakistan's Balakot had "causing significant damage" to it, sources in the security establishment said on Wednesday.
The source-based information about the "evidence" comes after a Reuters report claimed that satellite images of the Jaish-e-Mohammad Madrasa in Balakot showed the facility is still intact and buildings are standing.
The sources told news agency PTI that the S-2000 laser-guided bombs hit the target and caused significant “internal damage” at the site, sources said. S-2000 smart bombs penetrate the targets and cause a blast inside, they said.
The officials said the government was given all the "evidence" of the February 26 strike on the JeM camp on Sunday.
They also said that the IAF has collected from independent sources satellite imagery of the site of the JeM camp after the strike to assess the impact of the operation, and these images have also been handed over to the government.
The Reuters report drew a comparison between an April 2018 image of the camp with that of an image taken on March 4, 2019, to show it is practically unchanged. The images produced by Planet Labs Inc, a San Francisco-based private satellite operator, show at least six buildings on the madrasa site on March 4, six days after the airstrike.
It further added that there are no discernible holes in the roofs of buildings, no signs of scorching, blown-out walls, displaced trees around the madrasa or other signs of an aerial attack.
The report comes amid a raging debate over the number of human casualties in the Balakot air strikes. Pakistan has disputed India's account, saying the operation was a failure that saw Indian jets, under pressure from Pakistani planes, drop their bombs on a largely empty hillside.
Briefing reporters last week, Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale had said "a very large number of JeM terrorists, trainers, senior commanders and groups of jihadis who were being trained for fidayeen action were eliminated", while the government sources said 350 terrorists were killed. Later, BJP president Amit Shah put the toll at 250.
Amidst media reports suggesting minimal damage during these air strikes, opposition parties have been clamouring for clarity.
On Monday, Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa said it is for the government to provide death toll of terrorists, and the IAF only sees if a target has been hit or not.
On Tuesday, Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh said around 400 terrorists were killed in the air strikes. When asked about the number of terrorists eliminated, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman did not given any figure.
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