IAF Air Strikes: Pakistani Eyewitnesses Recount ‘Scary’ Night
India conducted air strikes on the biggest camp of Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) early Tuesday, 26 February, to prevent suicide attacks being planned by the Pakistan-based terror group. The strike killed a large number of terrorists and trainers, India’s Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale said.
The strike took place near Balakot in Pakistan's Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
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"It was very scary. We heard loud noises and five ten minutes later there was a blast. We did not sleep the whole night. After 5-10 minutes, we got to know there's been a blast," he said. According to BBC Hindi, Adil said there were five blasts at the same time.
Another eyewitness, Wajid Shah, was quoted as saying by BBC, "It felt like somebody is firing with a rifle. We heard it thrice. Then there was silence."
“We saw trees fallen down and one house damaged and four craters where the bombs had fallen,” a Mohammad Ajmal told Reuters.
Jaish Runs a Madrasa in The Area: Villagers
Huffington Post India quoted another resident of the area saying there was a nearby madrasa run by JeM, the terror outfit that claimed responsibility for the Pulwama attack on a CRPF convoy in Kashmir.
“I belong to that area. I know for sure that there has been a training camp. It used to be there. I know Jaish people ran it,” another person, who wished to remain anonymous, said, adding that militants had been in the area for years.
“This camp was turned into a madrasa several years ago, but no one would still be allowed to get close to this infrastructure. There are scores of students in the madrasa at any given time.”
According to the villagers quoted in the report, the Indian strike had missed its target as the bombs dropped exploded about a kilometre away from the madrasa.
In the face of imminent danger, a preventive strike became "absolutely necessary," Gokhale said, adding that India is firmly committed towards taking all measures to fight terrorism.
India, he said, expects Pakistan to dismantle all terror camps, including those of the JeM.
'Four Explosions, Separated by Few Seconds'
A witness and local officials told Al Jazeera that Indian air raids launched on Pakistani territory earlier this week destroyed parts of a mostly uninhabited forest and a farmer's field.
"I woke up at the sound of the first explosion, and ran out of bed," said Nooran Shah. Two of the bombs landed on Shah's house.
"The second blast knocked the doors off my house," he added.
Another witness, Syed Rehman Shah, told Al Jazeera that when he heard the explosion, he ran out of his house. He said, "I heard four loud explosions, seprated by a few seconds each. It felt like the day of judgement has come," he added.
'Jaish Camp at Madrassa'
One of the residents told Al Jazeera that near the uninhabited area – where the bombs hit – there is a madrassa. "The madrassa there, at the top of the mountain, that is a training camp for mujahideen," a local said.
Another local reiterated, saying, "Everyone knows there is a Jaish camp there."
(With inputs from BBC Hindi, Huffington Post, PTI and Reuters)