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Italian scribe puts Balakot death toll between 130-170

The report says Pakistan Army still controls the entire area and no one is allowed to travel to the area where the JeM was located. AFP file photo

An Italian journalist on Wednesday claimed that about 130 to 170 Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorists were killed by the Indian Air Force when it raided the terrorists’ camp in the wee hours of February 26.

In a sensational report, the journalist said that around 20 JeM cadres died while undergoing treatment while another 45 were still undergoing treatment at a Harkat-ul-Mujahideen camp nearby. The treatment was provided by Pakistan Army doctors.

Those killed included 11 trainers, ranging from bomb makers to those imparting weapons training. Two of the trainers were from Afghanistan. These claims were made by Francesca Marino, an Italian journalist whose Twitter profile describes her as a specialist of South Asia and co-author of a book titled Apocalypse Pakistan with B Natale.

Francesca reported that the first Pakistan Army unit that arrived at the JeM camp came from Shinkari, around 20 km from Balakot. They reached around 6 am, nearly 2.5 hours after the IAF strike.

The report says Pakistan Army still controls the entire area and no one is allowed to travel to the area where the JeM was located. The camp area is under the command of a Captain rank officer of the Mujahid battalion. The access is restricted even to the local police.

“The inhabitants of Bisian township near the JeM camp, still discuss of some locals having noticed vehicles dumping rubble in the Kunhar river during the first night after the strike,” says the report posted on the blogging site StringerAsia.

The Ministry of External Affiairs and the Ministry of Defence have not yet responded to these claims. 

The report comes more than two months after the IAF air strike on the JeM camp to avenge the killing of 40 CRPF troops in Jammu and Kashmir’s biggest terror attack at Pulwama on February 14. 

While top government officials including Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale and IAF chief B S Dhanoa did not release any casualty figure, BJP president Amit Shah claimed at a public rally that 250 terrorists were eliminated in that raid.

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