A cropped version of a satellite image shows a close-up of a madrasa near Balakot, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, Pakistan, March 4, 2019. (Planet Labs Inc./Handout via REUTERS)
A religious school in Pakistan thought to have been run by an extremist group that was targeted by Indian airstrikes last month appears to have escaped unscathed, despite claims it was destroyed and militants were killed.
The satellite images of the school in northern Pakistan's Balakot region on March 4 produced by Planet Labs Inc. and obtained by Reuters show at least six buildings at the site, with few changes since the last image of the area taken in April 2018.
Indian officials called the attack a pre-emptive strike that hit a terrorist training camp and killed "a very large number" of militants. Officials in Pakistan, however, have disputed that by claiming Indian jets dropped their bombs on a hillside area after pressure from Pakistani planes.
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“There has been no damage to any infrastructure or human life as a result of Indian incursion,” Pakistan's military spokesman, Maj. Gen Asif Ghafoor, said in a statement to Reuters. “This has been vindicated by both domestic and international media after visiting the site."
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The airstrike on Feb. 26 followed a suicide bombing in India's section of the disputed territory of Kashmir on Feb. 14 that killed more than 40 Indian soldiers. The militant group Jaish-e-Mohammed, which is based in Pakistan, claimed responsibility for the initial bombing. The suicide bomber was from Indian Kashmir. Pakistan retaliated, shooting down two Indian planes and capturing a pilot, who was later returned to India in a peace gesture.
Reporters from news agencies such as Reuters and The Associated Press visited the area after the bombing, only to report several large craters, a few upended trees, but no sign of destroyed buildings.
A building, which according to residents is a madrasa is seen near to the site where Indian military aircrafts released payload in Jaba village, Balakot, Pakistan February 28, 2019. (REUTERS/Asif Shahzad)
Tahir Khan, who lives about a half-kilometer from the village, told the AP at the time two dried mud structures were damaged in the explosions but no one was hurt.
Pakistani reporters and troops visit the site of an Indian airstrike in Jaba, near Balakot, Pakistan, Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2019. (AP Photo/Aqeel Ahmed)
"No one has been killed, no one has been seriously hurt," he said at the time. "But we want to know, what have we done that we were attacked?"
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The two countries frequently contradict one another, with Indian officials accusing Pakistan of cultivating such groups, something denied by Islamabad.
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So far, the Indian government has not produced evidence that a camp was destroyed or that any militants were killed in the airstrike. Officials have also not said what weapons were used in the airstrike, nor responded to a request to comment by Reuters about the satellite images.
Opposition politicians in India are now pushing the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to provide additional details
“We want to know how many people actually died,” Mamata Banerjee, a potential prime ministerial candidate, said in a video posted to Twitter by her All India Trinamool Congress party. “Where did the bombs fall? Did they actually fall in the right place?”
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Modi has responded to opponents ahead of the general election in May by claiming they are helping India’s enemies by demanding evidence of the attacks, according to Reuters.
“At a time when our army is engaged in crushing terrorism, inside the country and outside, there are some people within the country who are trying to break their morale, which is cheering our enemy,” the prime minister said Sunday at an election rally.
Fox News's Barnini Chakraborty, Lukas Mikelionis and the Associated Press contributed to this report.
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