Satellite images show madrasah India said it bombed still standing

A cropped version of a satellite image showing a close-up of the intact religious school in Pakistan that India said it had bombed last week.
A cropped version of a satellite image showing a close-up of the intact religious school in Pakistan that India said it had bombed last week.PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW DELHI • High-resolution satellite images show a religious school run by Jaish-e-Mohammed in north-eastern 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, a San Francisco-based private satellite operator, show at least six buildings on the madrasah site on Monday, six days after the airstrike.

The Planet Labs images, which show details as small as 72cm, offer a clearer look at the structures that the Indian government said it attacked.

The scene is virtually unchanged from a satellite photo of the facility in April last year. There are no discernible holes in the roofs of buildings, no signs of scorching, blown-out walls, displaced trees or other signs of an aerial attack.

The images cast further doubt on statements made over the last eight days by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government that the raids, early on Feb 26, had hit all the intended targets at the madrasah site near Jaba village and the town of Balakot in Pakistan's Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

Mr 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. Mr Lewis viewed three other high-resolution Planet Labs pictures of the site taken within hours of the image provided.

The Indian government has not publicly disclosed what weapons were used in the strike.

Government sources last week said 12 Mirage 2000 jets carrying 1,000kg bombs carried out the attack. On Tuesday, a defence official said the aircraft used the 2,000-lb Israeli-made Spice 2000 glide bomb in the strike. A warhead of that size is meant to destroy hardened targets such as concrete shelters.

Pakistan has disputed India's account, saying the operation was a failure that saw Indian jets, under pressure from Pakistani planes, drop their bombs on a largely empty hillside.

"There has been no damage to any infrastructure or human life as a result of Indian incursion," said Major-General Asif Ghafoor, the director-general of the Pakistan military's press wing. "This has been vindicated by both domestic and international media after visiting the site," he added.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 07, 2019, with the headline 'Satellite images show madrasah India said it bombed still standing'. Print Edition | Subscribe