Who is Maulana Yusuf Azhar, the target of the IAF strikes at Balakot
New Delhi, Feb 26: The Indian Air Force targeted a major facility of the Jaish-e-Mohammad at Balakot and said that it had inflicted significant damage. Sources said that the casualties could at around 200 to 300.
The main target of the strike was Maulana Yusuf Azhar alias Ustad Ghauri, who is the brother in law of JeM chief, Maulana Masood Azhar. Sources say that it was Ghauri who was running the camp and he was overseeing the training of several more hidayeens to be launched into Kashmir.
Ghauri, it may be recalled was one of the terrorists who hijacked the Indian Airlines flight, IC-814 in 1999 on its way from Kathmandu to Lucknow. The flight was hijacked to secure the release of Azhar, who was in the custody of the Indian forces. The plane was then taken to Kandahar by the terrorists. The passengers were freed after Azhar was released.
Ghauri figures on the Interpol list for offences such as hijacking, kidnapping and murder. He also goes by the alias Mohammad Salim. He is a resident of Karachi, Pakistan, the Interpol notice also says.
Following a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Security in New Delhi, foreign secretary Vijay Gokhale said that a large number of Jaish-e-Mohammad terrorists, trainers, senior commanders were eliminated in the largest JeM camp in Balakot. The camp was led by Maulana Yusuf Azhar alias Ustad Ghauri, the brother in law of JeM chief, Masood Azhar, he also said.
He also added that the selection of the target was conditioned by our desire to avoid civilian casualty. It is located in a deep forest on a hilltop.