The Indian Air Force on February 26 conducted an air strike on a Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terrorist camp in Pakistan’s Balakot to avenge the Pulwama attack. At least 42 CRPF personnel were killed last month in one of the deadliest terror attacks in Jammu and Kashmir when a Jaish suicide bomber rammed a vehicle carrying over 30 kg of explosives into their bus in Pulwama district that also left many critically wounded. More than 2,500 Central Reserve Police Force personnel, many of them returning from leave to rejoin duty in the Valley, were travelling in the convoy of 78 vehicles when they were ambushed on the Srinagar-Jammu highway at Latoomode in Awantipora in south Kashmir. It was the first time in more than a decade that Indian jets had crossed the LoC to strike against Pakistan. The Indian Air Force hit Jabha Top, a forested hilltop where the Jaish-e-Mohammed had its camp.
Balakot is in the Mansehra district of Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. It is 63 km north of Abbottabad. The terror camp was located on the bank of the Kunhar river. The Balakot camp was an important training centre for the JeM and other terror organisations.
The training camp is described as being spread over six acres, with enough space to accommodate 600 cadres. The last “passing out” of militant recruits at Balakot was attended on April 1, 2018 by Mufti Abdul Rauf Asghar, the brother of Jaish founder Maulana Mazood Azhar, according to the Indian Express report.
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Inspirational lectures were delivered at this camp by JeM chief Masood Azhar. He had given the task of overseeing the Balakot training centre to his brother-in-law Maulana Yousuf Azhar, Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale said in his media briefing.
Jaish-e-Muhammed’s Balakot is named after Syed Ahmed Shaheed. Syed Ahmad is thought to have anticipated modern Islamists in waging war and attempting to create an Islamic state with strict enforcement of Islamic law.
Two nephews of Masood Azhar, Talha Rasheed and Usman Haider killed by security forces in the Kashmir valley are believed to be the part of Balakot terror camp.
The US, the UK and France on Wednesday moved a fresh proposal in the UN Security Council to designate Azhar as a global terrorist, a listing that will subject him to the global travel ban, asset freeze and arms embargo.