Eyewitnesses say IAF air strike in Balakot killed dozens of Jaish terrorists, a former ISI agent, ex-Pakistan army men

Eyewitnesses present at the site of India’s 26 February bomb strikes against a Jaish-e-Muhammad base say they saw up to 35 bodies being transported out of the the site by ambulance hours after the attack. The dead, they recounted, included 12 men who were said to have been sleeping in a single temporary shack, and several individuals who had earlier served in Pakistan’s military.

The sources, who work for local government authorities, declined to be identified as they are not authorised to speak to media, and said they feared reprisal. The eyewitnesses were contacted by this correspondent using encrypted communication.

An image released by Reuters of a madrasa near the site where Indian aircrafts released payload in Jaba village. “Local authorities reached the site soon after the bombing,” one witness said, “but the area had already been cordoned off by then by the army, who did not even allow police to enter. The army also took away mobile phones from the medical staff on the ambulances.”

A former Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) officer known locally as “Colonel Salim” was killed in the bombing, sources said, while a “Colonel Zarar Zakri” was injured. Mufti Moeen, a Jaish-e-Muhammad instructor from Peshawar, and improvised explosive device-fabrication expert Usman Ghani were also killed in the bombing.

The largest single cluster of fatalities, the eyewitnesses said, were 12 Jaish-e-Muhammad fidayeen trainees, who were living in a single temporary earth-and-wood building that was flattened in the bombing.

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