5-star resort, a pool and special training: Details of JeM's Balakot camp

Pakistani reporters and troops visit the site of an Indian airstrike in Jaba, near Balakot, Pakistan. Photo: Reuters
The Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) terrorist camp struck by Indian Air Force (IAF) Mirage combat aircraft in a pre-dawn operation on Tuesday near Balakot, a town in Pakistan's Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, has been described as a five-star, resort-style facility by agency reports.   

The camp was reportedly located on the banks of the Kunhar river and at a distance of 20 kilometres from the Balakot town.  

Details about the camp's size, facilities and the activities undertaken there have streamed in since yesterday through agency reports. Here's everything we know so far about the camp. 

What was the camp used for?

1) The camp that IAF struck was the biggest operated by the JeM. The camp had several structures to accommodate new recruits and facilities to train them, news agencies said citing unnamed sources. 

2) The Balakot-based camp was being used for "battle inoculation", agency reports said citing government sources. The trainers at the camp were retired officers of the Pakistan Army. 

3) The camp was also used by another terror group, the Hizbul Mujahideen.

4) At least 325 terrorists and 25 to 27 trainers were at the camp, unnamed sources told news agencies. 

5) 'Aquatic training' was also provided to recruits at the camp, according to the above sources. 

6) Terrorists at the camp reportedly received advanced 'Daura-e-Khaas' training, which involved using weapons, explosives and field tactics, attacking security forces' convoys, planting and making improvised explosive devices (IEDs), suicide bombing, rigging vehicles for suicide attacks and survival tactics at high altitudes and extreme-stress situations. 

7) Religious indoctrination and ideological brainwashing may have also reportedly occurred at the camp.

What was the camp like?

1) Citing unnamed sources, agency reports described the camp as a five-star, resort-style facility located on a forested hilltop.  

2) The Balakot camp reportedly had facilities for 500 to 700 people. It even had a swimming pool, along with cooks and cleaners. 

Used by Azhar's relatives

1) JeM chief Masood Azhar's relatives were also trained at the camp in advanced weapons and tactics, sources told news agencies. 

2) Azhar and other terrorist leaders delivered several "inspirational lectures" on several occasions at the camp.

3) Yousuf Azhar, who headed the Balakot camp, is the brother-in-law of Masood Azhar.

Balakot is some 80 km from the Line of Control near Abbotabad, where Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was killed in hiding by covert US forces who had also sneaked into Pakistan to carry out the operation, catching the Pakistani military unawares. 


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