Pakistan blocks media access to madrasa targeted by IAF air strikes

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JABA, Pakistan: Pakistani security officials on Thursday prevented media from climbing a hill in north-eastern Pakistan to the site of a madrasa and a group of surrounding buildings that was targeted by Indian warplanes last week. It is the third time in the past nine days that media reporters have visited the area and each time the path up to what villagers say was a religious school run at one time by militant group Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) and what the Indian government says was a terrorist training camp was blocked. India’s Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale said on the day of the strike that it had killed “a very large number of Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorists, trainers, senior commanders, and groups of jihadis” at the alleged training camp. The Pakistani security officials guarding the way to the site cited security concerns for denying access. They stuck to the Pakistani government’s position ever since the Indian attack on Feb. 26 that no damage was caused to any buildings and there was no loss of life. In Islamabad, the military’s press wing has twice called off visits to the site for weather and organisational reasons and an official said no visit would be possible for a few days more due to security issues. The reporters team could view the madrasa from 100 metres away and only from below. The building that reporters could see was surrounded by undamaged pine trees, and did not show any signs of damage or activity but given the view, the assessment is very limited. High-resolution satellite images that were reviewed on Wednesday showed the madrasa appears to be standing, virtually unchanged from an April 2018 satellite photo of the facility.