One Year On, A Look at How Balakot Camp Airstrikes Played Out
Reports say the JeM camp in Balkot was adequately equipped to train a large number of militants.
(This article was first published on 28 February 2019 and is being republished from The Quint’s archives to mark the one-year anniversary of the Balakot airstrikes)
Video Editor: Sandeep Suman
The Jaish-e-Mohammad terror camp struck by the Indian Air Force in Pakistan’s Balakot on Wednesday, 27 February, was located on a hill-top and was equipped with several training facilities, say reports based on dossiers sent by the Indian government.
The camp, located on the Jabha hilltop, was spread over six acres, had the capacity to house over 600 militants and was located about 20-kilometers away from the town of Balakot in Pakistan Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. While the JeM was formed in early 2000, it is unclear as to when the camp in Balakot was set up.
However, according to The Economic Times, the Balakot camp was named in a 2004 secret US document, that was leaked by Wikileaks. So, it’s clear that the JeM had been organising training activities since the last 15 years in the forested areas of Balakot.
The camp was equipped with a firing range, a swimming pool and a gymnasium. Around 25 instructors, mostly comprising former Pakistan Army officials were in charge of training new recruits. Since the JeM specialises in fidayeen or suicide attacks, the new recruits were subjected to extensive religious and ideological brainwashing.
The young recruits were imparted advanced training:
- In weapons, explosives and field tactics
- Attack on convoys of security forces
- Planting and making of IEDs
- Suicide bombing
- Rigging vehicles for suicide attacks
- Survival tactics in high altitudes and extreme-stress situations
- Aquatic training
In charge of the camp was Yusuf Azhar, the brother-in-law of JeM Chief Masood Azhar. Yusuf is accused of being one of the terrorists who had hijacked IC-814, an Indian Airlines flight from Kathmandu to New Delhi, that was taken hostage by JeM militants in 1999.
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