Balakot Airstrike Anniversary: February 26 marks the first anniversary of the Balakot airstrike which was conducted by the Indian Air Force to target the terrorist camps operating in the town of Balakot in the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan. On February 26, 2019, in the wee hours, India carried out airstrike around 12 days after a convoy of vehicles carrying CRPF personnel was attacked by a suicide bomber-plotted by Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terror organisation, at Lethpora in Pulwama district of Jammu and Kashmir. On 14 February last year, 40 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel were killed in the attack.
In retaliation, Indian Air Force destroyed the biggest terror training camp of JeM at Balakot on February 26, 2019. A dozen IAF Mirage 2000 fighter jets crossed the India-Pakistan border to attack terror camp.
According to reports, the terrorist camps at Balakot have undergone a revamp ahead of the first anniversary of the IAF bombings. According to India Today, analysis of open source high-resolution satellite images has identified structural changes in parts of the camp.
The changes in the terror camps are time-stamped to the third week of December 2019. The reports also claim that the Jaish e Mohammad (JeM) camp, which is spread over one acre of land at Jabba in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, also doubled down as a Madrasa.
The satellite imagery's examination reveals obscured signs of modifications including measurable change in perimeter of the camp's structures and roofs.
The semi-square structure with a "pyramid hipped" rooftop was identified as Mujahid Hostel of the Balalkot camp during the Indian Air Force strikes. Analysis of imagery showed that north-west corner of the Mujahid hostel roof was disarranged in the first week of December 2019.
Big Main Hall:
Minute changes can be seen in the big main hall on the west side of the area. The hall is covered by a large hipped roof. The measurement of the roof's width, which stood around 35 metres, shrunk to 32 meters in the first week of December 2019. However, the roof's width returned back to its original size in the third week of December 2019.
Post Indian Air Force bombings, the Pakistani military seized the access of the madrasa for foreign journalists. The Pakistani military Inter-Services Public Relations's (ISPR) media wing allowed a delegation of foreign media and defence attachés to the camp of a disputed Indian airstrike.
Where Pakistan claimed that the large building was fully intact and the Pakistani army denied that it had been used as a terror camp. India has consistently maintained that the Balakot strike was a successful operation. India said that missiles had hit five separate structures along a ridge-line to the west of the town of Bisian near Balakot.
"In an intelligence-led operation in the early hours of today (Feb 26), India struck the biggest training camp of JeM in Balakot. In this operation, a very large number of JeM terrorists, trainers, senior commanders and groups of jihadis who were being trained for fidayeen action were eliminated," then Foreign Secretary of India said in a press conference later in the day.
The terror camps at Balakot were headed by Maulana Yousuf Azhar (alias Ustad Ghouri), brother-in-law of Masood Azhar, Chief of JeM," the Secretary added.