Airstrike in Balakot “not a military action”: Defence Minister

NEW DELHI: Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Tuesday termed the Balakot airstrike as “not a military action” as there was no damage to civilians.

According to media reports, Ms. Nirmala while responding to question on BJP President Amit Shah claimed than 250” terrorists were killed in that airstrike told the reporters that Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale had not given any casualty figure about the number of militanst killed in the airstrike and he had only given a statement.

The BJP President claimed in Ahmedabad on Sunday that “more than 250” terrorists were killed in the Balakot airstrike, where the Indian Air Force targeted and destroyed a JeM camp in Pakistan last week.

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Gokhale had last Tuesday said that the non-military and pre-emptive strike specifically targeted the biggest training camp of JeM in Balakot and a very large number of JeM terrorists, trainers, senior commanders and groups of jihadis who were being trained for fidayeen action were eliminated.

Sitharaman’s remarks over casualty figure comes in the back drop of the opposition parties demanding the details of the number of people killed in the airstrike.

The Defence Minister also rejected the relationship between airstrike and the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.

IAF Chief Air Chief Marshal B.S. Dhanoa on Monday, 5 March clarify that his force does not count human casualties but the airstrike had hit the “target”.

“The Indian Air Force is not in a position to clarify the number of casualties. The government will clarify that. We don’t count human casualties. We do not count how many people were dead. We count what targets we have hit or not. We hit our target. The air force doesn’t calculate casualty numbers. The government does that,” he told the media here.

On 14 February 2019, a suicide terror attack was conducted by a Pakistan-based terrorist organization Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), leading to the martyrdom of 40 brave jawans of the CRPF.