Pakistani officials prevented a group of Reuters journalists to access the Jaish-e-Mohammad Madrasa being used as a terrorist camp that was targeted in Balakot targeted by Indian Air Force last week, reports Reuters.
The Pakistani officials prevented the team from climbing a hill in northeastern Pakistan to the site of the madrasa and a group of surrounding buildings. It was the third attempt of the team in past nine days to visit the site.
The reason cited behind the sealing of the area by Pakistani officials is ‘security concerns’, while denying Indian government’s claim that the terrorist camp was hit by the IAF killing large number of terrorists.
While the officials repeat the Pakistan government’s stance that no damage has been caused by the air strike, the eyewitnesses claimed to have seen up to 35 bodies being moved out from the area by ambulances in the aftermath of the airstrike. They stated that former Pakistani soldiers, ISI Agents, fidayeens were among those who lost their lives.
"Local authorities reached the site soon after the bombing," one witness recounted, adding, "but the area had already been cordoned off by then by the army, who did not even allow police to enter. The army also took away mobile phones from the medical staff on the ambulances."
The Pakistan military’s press wing has reportedly called off the visits to the site twice for ‘weather and organisational reasons’ and an official said no visit would be possible for a few days more due to security issues.
Reuters team was also told by the villagers that the madrasa was indeed run by the terror group Jaish-e-Mohammed. A sign with the group’s name had previously stood near the site but was later removed.
Another resident of the area Mohammad Naseem said there were madrasas in the area opened during Zia-ul-Haq regime, but added, “there is no madrasa or anything like that here anymore”.
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