While post-strike images of the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terrorist training camp in Pakistan's Balakot showcase prominent bomb impact points in the area, the Pakistani security officials have reportedly barred the media from entering the site yet again on Friday, denying any damage to the place. A group of Reuters journalists on Friday reached Balakot to visit the Islamic seminary and the adjacent buildings but could not climb the hillock as the path to the buildings was blocked. The camp has been sealed off for journalists and visitors for an indefinite period of time, according to sources.
On February 26, the Indian Air Force (IAF)'s Mirage 2000 fighters armed with SPICE 2000 satellite-guided bombs had struck the Jaish-e-Mohammed's Balakot training camp in response to the gruesome terror attack in Jammu and Kashmir's Pulwama district on February 14. Being touted as the Surgical Strike 2.0, the airstrike killed "a very large number of Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorists, trainers, senior commanders, and groups of jihadis" at the alleged terror camp in Balakot, India’s foreign secretary Vijay Gokhale said.
This was the third time in the last nine days that the media professionals were prevented from entering the site, citing security, weather and organisational reasons. The press wing of the Pakistani military said that no media visits will be possible for a few more days.
Previously, the Pakistani military's press wing had cancelled media visits to the sites citing weather and organisational reasons. The military said no media visits will be possible for a few more days.
Meanwhile, the recently-released high-resolution private satellite images reviewed by Reuters show significant changes on the ground and possibly structures a short distance from the largest structure of the Jaish training camp in Balakot. A close analysis of pre-blast and post-blast images also indicated four likely bomb entry points on the roof of the structure.
However, Reuters, quoting satellite imagery experts, had disputed the claim of the Indian Air Force and the government that they had successfully struck the Jaish-e-Mohammed's Balakot camp.
According to Colonel Vinayak Bhat, a retired satellite imagery expert, the images show four dark spots on the roof, missing tents and burnt earth but walls and buildings intact".
Days after the Indian Air Force's Balakot airstrike, the Government of India and several ministers from the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have indicated off the record that around 250-300 terrorists may have been killed in the camp. However, the government is yet to release any evidence in support of its statement.