Thursday, September 23, 2021

Satellite images cast doubt on India airstrike claims

New Delhi/Singapore, March 6: High-resolution satellite images reviewed by Reuters show that a religious school run by Jaish-e-Mohammad in northeastern Pakistan appears to be still standing days after India claimed its warplanes had hit the Islamist group’s training camp on the site and killed a large number of militants.
The images produced by Planet Labs Inc, a San Francisco-based private satellite operator, show at least 6 buildings on the madrasa site on March 4, six days after the airstrike.
Until now, no high-resolution satellite images were publicly available. But the images from Planet Labs, which show details as small as 72 cm, offer a clearer look at the structures the Indian Government said it attacked.
The image is virtually unchanged from an April 2018 satellite photo of the facility. There are no discernible holes in the roofs of buildings, no signs of scorching, blown-out walls, displaced trees around the madrasa or other signs of an aerial attack.
The images cast further doubt on statements made over the last 8 days by the Indian Government that the raids, early on February 26, had hit all the intended targets at the madrasa site near Jaba village and the town of Balakot in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
India’s Foreign and Defence Ministries did not reply to emailed questions sent in the past few days seeking comment on what is shown in the satellite images and whether they undermine its official statements on the airstrikes.
Jeffrey Lewis, Director of the East Asia Nonproliferation Project at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, who has 15 years’ experience in analysing satellite images of weapons sites and systems, confirmed that the high-resolution satellite picture showed the structures in question.
“The high-resolution images don’t show any evidence of bomb damage,” he said. Lewis viewed 3 other high-resolution Planet Labs pictures of the site taken within hours of the image provided to Reuters.
The Indian Government has not publicly disclosed what weapons were used in the strike. (Agencies)