New Delhi (Sputnik): As many as 170 Jaish-e-Mohammed militants were killed in Balakot, within Pakistan, due to the Indian air strike launched on 26 February in retaliation for a terror attack on a convoy of security personnel in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir earlier in February, an Italian journalist has revealed to Indian news channel India TV.
Pakistan's cover up exposed in new report. 130-170 JeM terrorists killed in Balakot airstrike, confirms Italian journalist @francescam63.
— India Today (@IndiaToday) May 8, 2019
The Balakot air strike on 26 February was India's response to the 14 February JeM-perpetrated Pulwama terror attack that killed more than 40 Indian soldiers.
India had claimed that the Balakot air strike was successful and had achieved its aim of destroying the alleged JeM terror infrastructure. Amit Shah, the president of India's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, had reportedly claimed over 250 terrorists were killed in the air strike.
The claim, however, was shot down by Pakistan.
Indian aircrafts’ intrusion across LOC in Muzafarabad Sector within AJ&K was 3-4 miles.Under forced hasty withdrawal aircrafts released payload which had free fall in open area. No infrastructure got hit, no casualties. Technical details and other important information to follow.— Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor (@OfficialDGISPR) February 26, 2019
Other Indian agencies and media reports corroborated the ‘damages done' by the 26 February Indian air strikes, but had refrained from putting any figures as to the body count of jihadi terrorists; although the Indian Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale had said "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 attack.
Pakistan has vehemently denied the damages claimed by India and reiterated that nothing noteworthy had been hit by Indian bombs, and that there was no death toll. Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan said that since Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's popularity is rapidly shrinking, he could plan any "misadventure" to remain in power, adding that Pakistan should remain alert till the Indian elections are over.
Payload of hastily escaping Indian aircrafts fell in open. pic.twitter.com/8drYtNGMsm— Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor (@OfficialDGISPR) February 26, 2019
A group of international media journalists mostly India based and Ambassadors & Defence Attachés of various countries in Pakistan visited impact site of 26 February Indian air violation near Jabba, Balakot. Saw the ground realities anti to Indian claims for themselves. pic.twitter.com/XsONflGGVP— Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor (@OfficialDGISPR) April 10, 2019
The media-diplomat entourage that visited the site, by and large, reported that the visit offered too little too late, and evidence provided by the Pakistani government was inconclusive.
The revelation from Francesca Marino seems to be a shot in the arm for the Indian government, especially Narendra Modi, who is vying for re-election for a second term in the ongoing national elections.