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IAF gives images to govt showing 'significant damage' to JeM camp

Last updated on: March 06, 2019 20:56 IST

The Indian Air Force has given the government radar and satellite images showing bombing of the 'intended targets' at the Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorist training camp in Pakistan's Balakot and 'causing significant damage' to it, sources in the security establishment said on Wednesday.

The source-based information about the 'evidence' comes in the backdrop of a report by a foreign news agency claiming that satellite images of the JeM madrassa in Balakot showed the facility is still intact and buildings are standing.

 

The government was given on Sunday all the 'evidence' of the February 26 strike on the JeM camp, including radar and satellite imagery, which showed that the S-2000 laser-guided munition hit the intended targets causing significant 'internal damage', sources said.

S-2000 smart bombs penetrates the targets and cause a blast inside, as per sources.

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 news report, which 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, also comes amid raging debate over the number of human casualties in the Balakot air strikes.

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, Bharatiya Janata Party 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 B S 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.

Qureshi identifies PAF pilots who he says shot down 2 IAF jets

Meanwhile, for the first time, Pakistan on Wednesday identified its two fighter pilots who were involved in an aerial combat with the Indian Air Force jets as Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi told Parliament that two Indian planes were shot down by them.

Lauding the PAF pilots in the National Assembly, Qureshi said, "Pakistan Air Force shot down two Indian aircraft violating the Pakistani airspace.

"One Indian jet was shot down by Squadron Leader Hassan Siddiqui while other was downed by Wing Commander Nauman Ali Khan."

Qureshi officially identified Wing Commander Nauman Ali Khan as the Pakistan Air Force pilot who shot down the second Indian fighter jet in the dogfight last week, Dawn news reported.

Pakistani military on February 27 claimed that two Indian IAF were hit. One plane crashed in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir while the other fell in Jammu and Kashmir after being hit.

India has maintained that Pakistan downed a MiG-21 aircraft of the IAF while Indian Air Force shot down an F-16 jet of the PAF during the dogfight.

The foreign minister made the statement after Pakistan People's Party Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, during his speech, praised Squadron Leader Siddiqui for downing the IAF Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman's MiG-21 jet on February 27.

"One clarification: Bilawal paid tribute to Hassan Siddiqui as he's absolutely a national hero," Qureshi said.

"But I would like to clarify that two Indian planes were shot down. The other one was shot down by Wg Cdr Nauman Ali Khan," he added, asking that the second pilot also be given due credit.

Qureshi, responding to Bilawal's claim that Prime Minister Imran Khan had taken a risk by prematurely releasing the Indian pilot, said: "This was discussed and we did it in Pakistan's interest.

"We thought by doing that we would be (sending) a message of de-escalation and that message went loud and clear, and was appreciated all over the world," the foreign minister said.

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