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Eyewitness confirms huge number of terrorists killed in IAF strike on JeM camp in Pakistan's Balakot: Report

Mar 3 (AZINS) While Pakistan government denied presence of Jaish-e-Mohammed training camp in Balakot and claimed that there was no damage caused by Indian airstrikes, an eyewitness in the area has confirmed that terrorists suffered heavy casualties in the bombing by the Indian Air Force.

Speaking to WION, an Italian journalist said that her source in Balakot has confirmed that the death toll was between 40 and 50, and the wounded between 35 to 40.

"I've got confirmations... 100% reliable confirmations," Francesca Marino, who was speaking from Rome, told WION.

India had launched air strikes on JeM's biggest training camp in Pakistan's Balakot on February 26. A dozen Mirage-200 jets of the IAF took part in the strikes to eliminate terrorists. The strikes came 12 days after 40 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel were killed in a suicide attack by JeM in Jammu and Kashmir's Pulwama district on February 14.

Pakistan claimed that there were no terror camps in the area and what Indian jets hit were only trees in a civilian area.

International media reports from the ground confirmed the presence of a JeM facility in the region but they were unable to assess the damage caused to it by Indian jets.

However, Marino said her source, who lives in the area, has confirmed the death toll.

"I've got confirmations... 100% reliable confirmations," Marino said, adding that her sources confirmed that ambulances arrived at the site after the air strikes, that the cellphones of the ambulance staff were taken away, and that at least 35 bodies were carried away.

Among the dead were 12 young trainees of the JeM, a JeM trainer called Mufti Moeen and a bomb expert called Usman Ghani among others.

A retired Pakistani Army colonel and another serving colonel were also killed in the strikes.

She added that "the population there is very scared, it is very difficult to get evidence out of there" but that "I am confident I will also get some video proof".

Meanwhile, an audio clip of Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) chief Masood Azhar's brother has emerged in which he is heard admitting that the Indian Air Force aircraft targeted a training centre of terror group. Jem chief's brother Maulana Ammar is heard saying in the clip that Indian fighter jets "crossed the border to enter the territory of an Islamic nation (read Pakistan) and bombed a centre of Muslims."

India had launched air strikes on JeM's biggest training camp in Pakistan's Balakot on February 26. The strikes came 12 days after 40 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel were killed in a suicide attack by JeM in Jammu and Kashmir's Pulwama district on February 14.

In a statement confirming that IAF launched an attack deep into Pakistan territory, Foreign secretary Vijay Gokhale said the airstrikes were a preemptive measure to stop the terror group from launching further attacks in India.

The government said that a very large number of JeM terrorists, trainers, senior commanders and groups of jihadis who were being trained for fidayeen action were eliminated in the operation.

Pakistan maintained that India dropped bombs in a forest and there were no casualty in the strikes.

On Wednesday, Pakistan Air Force violated Indian airspace in their attempt to target military installations in Jammu and Kashmir. While Indian forces foiled the attack and shot down an F-16 of the Pak Air Force, India lost a MiG-21 in the engagement.

The pilot of the Indian jet, Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman was captured by Pakistan and was released two days later on Friday after international pressure on Islamabad.

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