Pakistan has been accused of having “plenty to hide” by India, after Reuters journalists were repeatedly denied access to investigate a school near the site of an Indian airstrike inside Pakistan’s territory on February 26.
The claim was made by Indian Foreign Ministry spokesman Raveesh Kumar on Saturday. It follows a third attempt in nine days by the Reuters team to climb a hill at the site leading to a madrasa, or religious school, believed to have been run at one point by the Pakistani-based jihadist group Jaish-e-Muhammed (JeM). However, each attempt to access the area around the school was blocked by Pakistani guards citing “security concerns.”
“The fact that Pakistan has now refused access to journalists from visiting the site means that they have plenty to hide,” Kumar told reporters. He added that the “successful” strike had “achieved the desired objectives.”
Tensions between the two nuclear powers have been high since Indian warplanes conducted the cross-border raid on February 26, to destroy what New Delhi described as “terrorist camps” run by JeM. The group is behind the mid-February suicide bombing that ripped through a convoy carrying paramilitary policemen in Indian-controlled Kashmir, killing at least 42 officers.
The retaliatory strikes were hailed as a success by India, with the foreign minister triumphantly claiming “a very large number” of JeM fighters had been killed. However, Pakistan downplayed the raid and the number of casualties. Instead, it accused India of conducting an act of “environmental terrorism” by destroying a pine forest rather than a jihadist training camp.
Tensions peaked after an air encounter between both sides, with India saying it had shot down a Pakistani jet, while admitting to having lost one. Islamabad denied the information about the downing of its fighter.
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