- The terror camp at Balakot had facilities for 500 to 700 people
- It had a swimming pool along with cooks and cleaners
- The camp was once also used by the Hizbul Mujahideen
The Jaish-e-Mohammed terror training camp at Balakot, hit by Indian Air Force fighters in a pre-dawn strike across the Line of Control, housed hundreds of suicide attackers and their trainers who were shifted from Pakistan Occupied Kashmir to a five-star, resort-style camp in a hilltop forest after the Pulwama attack.
The vast, advanced camp was "a sitting duck" for the Air Force jets and over 300 terrorists were killed, most of them in their sleep, said home ministry sources. Jaish chief Masood Azhar's relatives and cadres were all trained at Balakot in advanced weapons and tactics.
Sources say "at least 325 terrorists and 25 to 27 trainers were at the camp" in Balakot, the biggest operated by the Jaish-e-Mohammed, which had claimed the February 14 suicide attack in which over 40 soldiers were killed in Kashmir's Pulwama.
The camp was once also used by the Hizbul Mujahideen.
Jaish chief Masood Azhar and other leaders delivered lectures here to indoctrinate terrorists.
Situated on Kunhar river, the camp also offered aquatic training to terrorists, say home ministry sources. The trainers were former Pakistani army men.
The terrorists were trained in weapons, explosives and field tactics, tactics for attacking security convoys, planting and making bombs, preps for suicide bombing, rigging vehicles for suicide attacks and survival tactics in high altitudes and extreme-stress situations, sources said.
The Jaish-e-Mohammed specialises in suicide attacks and "gives immense importance to religious indoctrination and ideological brainwashing" said home ministry sources.
When the Air Force Mirage 2000 jets hit the camp around 3.30 am, "everyone was sleeping" and the Pakistani defence establishment "had no clue" that the attack would come so deep into their country, because they had expected a surgical strike on camps in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir near the Line of Control, said the sources.
India acted on intelligence inputs that Jaish had shifted many terrorists and hardcore operatives, along with their trainers, to the Balakot camp, which had facilities for 500 to 700 people, and featured a swimming pool along with cooks and cleaners.
Fighter jets and other aircraft took off from several air bases at about the same time, leaving Pakistani defence officials confused on where they were heading, the sources said.
A small group of aircraft broke away from the swarm and headed to Balakot where "the sleeping terrorists were sitting ducks for the Indian bombing," the Press Trust of India quoted a source as saying.
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, taking Islamabad and the military by surprise.