Reuters Team Prevented Access to Airstrike Site Multiple Times

Earlier, the news agency cited satellite images to point that the madrasa in Balakot was still standing.

2 min read
Hindi Female

Two days after a Reuters report cited high-resolution satellite images to point that the madrasa in Balakot was still standing, a follow-up report by the news agency said that its reporters have been blocked from accessing the site for the third time in the last nine days.

The new report claims that a Reuters team was prevented by Pakistani security officials on Thursday, 7 March, from climbing to the site where the Indian Air Force claims to have carried out its 26 February airstrike. The reason cited for denial of access was “security concerns”.

This is what Reuters team claims to have observed 100 metres away from the madrasa:

“The building that reporters could see was surrounded by undamaged pine trees, and did not show any signs of damage or activity but given the view, the assessment is very limited.”
Reuters report

According to the high-resolution satellite images reviewed by the news agency on Wednesday, the madrasa, said to be run by the militant group Jaish-e-Mohammed, appears to be still standing and virtually unchanged from an April 2018 satellite photo of the facility.


Madrasa Deserted?

Local residents told Reuters that the madrasa, near Balakot in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, was no longer operational. One resident, who requested not to be identified, claimed that “it was shut down in June last year.” Another villager said “that used to be the madrasa but it is no longer active”. Notably, there had been a sign board in the vicinity bearing the name of JeM and its chief, but was removed later.

Reuters also spoke to Pakistani military officials stationed near the site, who repeated their government’s stand on the matter, that the buildings remained undamaged and no one had died in the Indian attack.

“They say they killed 300 people, but they didn’t even get 300 trees.”
A Pakistani soldier posted at the site of the Indian attack 

Meanwhile, India’s foreign and defence ministries have not replied to email questionnaires sent by Reuters regarding what is shown in the satellite images.

India had launched the air strikes in response to a terror attack in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama on 14 February. The attack, which was claimed by JeM, had killed 40 CRPF personnel.

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Topics:  Pakistan   Indian Air Force   Balakot 

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