Pakistan says it shot down two Indian air force jets, captured pilots
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Pakistan says it shot down two Indian air force jets, captured pilots

One plane said to come down in Pakistani-held Kashmir, while the other crashes in Indian territory, in latest round of sharply escalating tensions between two nuclear powers

Pakistan’s military said Wednesday that it has two Indian pilots in custody, captured after the Pakistani air force shot down their plane on its side of the disputed region of Kashmir.

Earlier, a military spokesman said Pakistan had shot down two Indian Air Force planes in its airspace in Kashmir on Wednesday, with one of the planes coming down in Indian-held territory.

The military said the other Indian Air Force plane was downed on the Pakistani side of the Line of Control in Kashmir — a boundary separating the disputed Himalayan region between the nuclear armed neighbors.

The military’s spokesman, Maj. Gen. Asif Ghafoor, said one of the captured pilots was injured and was being treated in a military hospital. He did not elaborate on the pilot’s injuries. Ghafoor confirmed the second pilot is in custody.

He said the Indian pilots “are being treated well.” He made no mention of whether they would be returned to India.

Indian news reports said that airports in the Indian portion of Kashmir were closed to civilian traffic shortly after the air force jet crashed in the area.

Ghafoor’s statement came as Indian sources said Wednesday that Pakistani fighter jets had violated airspace over Indian Kashmir, but were forced back over the de facto border of the disputed territory.

Students of Islami Jamiat Talaba, a wing of religious political party Pakistan Jamaat-e-Islami, chant slogans during an anti-India protest rally, in Lahore on February 27, 2019. (ARIF ALI/AFP)

Tensions remain high on the Asian Subcontinent, where tens of thousands of Indian and Pakistani soldiers face off along the Kashmir boundary.

A top government official in Indian-administered Kashmir told AFP the Pakistani jets briefly crossed the frontier but were pushed back by the Indian Air Force.

The Press Trust of India reported that Pakistani fighter planes crossed at Poonch and Nowshera, two locations on the Indian side of the de facto border, but were repelled.

PTI said the Pakistani jets dropped bombs while returning but that there were no immediate reports of casualties or damage.

The Pakistani foreign office also released a statement saying that the air force “undertook strikes” across the border, known as the Line of Control, Wednesday. However, it did not elaborate on what it meant by “strikes” and did not mention shooting down planes.

It said the strikes were aimed at a “non military target,” adding: “We have no intention of escalation.”

The incursion over the heavily militarized Line of Control comes a day after Indian warplanes carried out a strike in Pakistan on what New Delhi said was a militant training camp, in retaliation for a February 14 suicide bombing in Kashmir that killed 40 Indian troops.

Islamabad, while denying the Indian strike caused any major damage or casualties, had vowed to retaliate — fueling fears of a dangerous confrontation in South Asia.

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