Francesca marino

Francesca Marino, an Italian journalist, has exposed Pakistan's cover-up on the Balakot airstrikes by reporting that the Indian Air Force had indeed killed Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorists, unlike Pakistan's version that there were no deaths or damage to buildings. This report has brought one question to everyone's minds - who is Francesca Marino?

Meet Francesca Marino

Francesca Marino is an Italian journalist who writes for Il Meesagero, a daily publication, and L'Espresso, a weekly. She also freelances for India's Firstpost.

The Italian journalist initially came into limelight after she interviewed Jamaat-ud-Dawa chief Hafeez Saeed in March 2010. The interview is also included in her book - Apocalypse Pakistan - Anatomy of the most dangerous country in the world. The book explored Pakistan's fight against terrorism with the Western world but at the same time, Marino also accused the country of housing wanted and dangerous terrorists.

This book led to Marino being named on a Pakistan list of unwelcomed journalists in the country. Marino learned this the hard way when she landed in Karachi and was detained by the Federal Intelligence Authorities (FIA) overnight in a cell without a lawyer or phone call rights.

The next morning, Marino was advised to leave the country immediately. She was told that if she decides to stay back in Karachi, the government will not be responsible if she came in harm's way.

What did Francesca write about the Balakot airstrikes?

Francesca's detailed report has eyewitness accounts that around 130 to 170 terrorists were killed in the airstrike. Balakot reportedly had the biggest JeM training camp in Pakistan.

In her report, the Italian journalist had also explained that the killed terrorists included 11 trainers. JeM leaders had visited the families of the terrorists who were killed and offered them money in exchange for their silence.

"Despite Pakistan's efforts to deceive the world on the Indian airstrikes on the Jaish-e-Muhammad camp, small details of what happened in Balakot in the wee hours of February 26 and thereafter have kept trickling in from my source," Francesca wrote.

India had conducted the surgical strike during the early hours of February 26. The airstrike took place a week after the Pulwama attacks in Jammu and Kashmir in which over 40 CRPF jawans were killed. JeM had claimed responsibility for the attack.