Kashmir: Pakistan Shoots Down Two Indian Warplanes And Captures Two Pilots

Pakistan says it has shot down two Indian warplanes over Kashmir and captured the two pilots in a major escalation of the conflict in the disputed territory. An army spokesman said the country’s air force shot down the jets after they crossed the boundary between the two nuclear rivals in the region.Major General Asif Ghafoor said one plane went down in Indian-controlled Kashmir and another crashed on its own territory where Pakistani troops on the ground arrested the pilots. He said one of the Indians was injured and was being treated in a military hospital and said the other was in custody. Maj Gen Ghafoor said the pair “are being treated well” and did not say if they would be allowed to return home. It comes a day after Pakistan threatened India with retaliation after its rival launched an airstrike on a suspected extremist training camp in the Pakistan-controlled part of Kashmir. India said the early morning strike “eliminated” a large number of militants and no civilians were hurt.Maj Gen Ghafoor warned Delhi in a news conference on Tuesday: “It is your turn now to wait and get ready for our surprise.” India said its strike inside Pakistan was to prevent the Jaish-e-Mohammad group from launching another attack on Indian territory. The Pakistan-based militant group claimed it had carried out a suicide bombing on a convoy of India’s paramilitary forces in Indian-controlled Kashmir on 14 February, killing 40 troops. India has accused Pakistan of allowing the militant group to operate on its territory – which Islamabad denies. “This was not a retaliation in true sense, but to tell Pakistan has capability, we can do it, but we want to be responsible, we don’t want an escalation, we don’t want a war,” Maj Gen Ghafoor said of the latest strikes during a news conference on Wednesday.In a separate statement, Pakistan’s foreign ministry said: “If India is striking at so called terrorist backers without a shred of evidence, we also retain reciprocal rights to retaliate against elements that enjoy Indian patronage while carrying out acts of terror in Pakistan.” India confirmed the loss of a fighter jet and pilot. Raveesh Kumar, a spokesman for India’s ministry of external affairs, said an air force Mig-21 Bison was “lost” in a confrontation with a Pakistani aircraft over an area of Indian-controlled Kashmir and that its pilot was “missing in action”. He also told a news conference that Indian forces had shot down a Pakistani aircraft, and gave no further details. Senior Indian police officer Munir Ahmed Khan said an Indian air force plane crashed in Budgam, a district in the Kashmiri state of Jammu and Kashmir in India. Witnesses said soldiers fired in the air to keep residents away from the crash site.Pakistan’s prime minister Imran Khan said it was not in his country’s interests “to go to war” with India and called for calm. He said while he had warned his neighbours there would be a response to Tuesday’s attack, it was time for “sense” to prevail, and added: “If this escalates, where will this go?” As a result of the heightened tensions, Pakistan’s civil aviation authority said it had shut its airspace to all commercial flights. An Indian air force official said it had ordered the closure of Kashmir’s main airport in Srinagar and three others in neighbouring states. Several Indian airlines announced services to cities including Amritsar, Chandigarh, Dehradun, Jammu, Leh and Srinagar were affected due to airspace restrictions. IndiGo, GoAir, Jet Airways and Vistara said flights to several airports were on hold or temporarily suspended. Kashmir has been split between India and Kashmir since the end of British rule in 1947. The disputed territory has been termed a nuclear flashpoint and both countries have fought three wars over the area. Tensions between the two nuclear armed neighbours has increased as both sides blame each other for the violence in the region.Photo Credit: Getty

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