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Indian pilot ‘missing in action’ as IAF shoots down Pak aircraft; Islamabad claims he’s in its custody 

The Indian Express has learnt that a complement of Pakistan Air Force aircraft, presumably comprising Mirages, F16s and JF17s, crossed over to the Indian side of LoC in Rajauri-Naushera sector. There has been no official confirmation of the engagement from the government.

By: Express News Service | New Delhi |
Updated: February 27, 2019 4:00:15 pm
Pak Army releases video of captured pilot, India says no aircraft damaged Pakistan says it has no intention of escalation. (Representational)

The Ministry of External Affairs on Wednesday said Pakistan’s attempts to target military installations on the Indian side were foiled successfully and that one Pakistan aircraft was shot down. In a media briefing, MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said India lost one MIG-21 in that engagement, while one pilot is “missing in action”.

Pakistan claims that it has the pilot in its custody, the MEA spokesperson said, adding that the government is ascertaining the details.

Hours after Pakistan claimed “strikes across LoC from within Pakistani airspace”, the Pakistan Army also released a video that purportedly shows an IAF pilot identifying himself as Wing Commander Abhinandan.

The Indian Express has learnt that a complement of Pakistan Air Force aircraft, presumably comprising Mirages, F16s and JF17s, crossed over to the Indian side of LoC in Rajauri-Naushera sector. This attack happened at around 10 AM, and Pakistani bombs missed the targets which seemed to be an ammunition point, a supply point, a brigade headquarters and a battalion headquarters in the area.

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An IAF combat air patrol (CAP) of Mig29 aircraft was immediately put up in the air to engage the Pakistani aircraft in the air. Two Mig29 aircraft were claimed to have been shot down by Pakistan, with one wreckage falling on the Indian side and the other on the Pakistani side of LoC. PTI has reported that a Pakistani F16 was shot down in the engagement. There has been no official confirmation of the engagement from the government.

Follow LIVE updates on Pakistan airspace violation

“Struck across LoC from within our airspace”: Pakistan

In a statement released by the Pakistani Foreign Ministry, Islamabad said: “This was not retaliation to continued Indian belligerence. Pakistan has, therefore, taken strikes at a non-military target, avoiding human loss and collateral damage. Sole purpose being to demonstrate our right, will and capability for self-defence. We have no intention of escalation, but are fully prepared to do so if forced into that paradigm. That is why we undertook the action with clear warning and in broad daylight.”

“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. We do not wish to go to that route and wish that India gives peace a chance and to resolve issues like a mature democratic nation,” Pakistan’s statement said, reported The Dawn.

While there is no official reaction from the Indian government yet, news agency PTI quoted officials saying that the Pakistani jets were pushed back by Indian aircraft on air patrol. According to the report, Pakistan jets violated Indian air space in Nowshera sector of Jammu and Kashmir’s Rajouri district and in Poonch. PTI reports, quoting officials, that the Pakistani jets dropped bombs while returning. There were no immediate reports of any casualties or damage.

Flight services at 7 airports resume after brief suspension

Security has been heightened in Jammu and Kashmir. Flight services, which were suspended at seven airports for civilian traffic, including Srinagar, Jammu and Leh, have resumed operations.

An official from the Airport Authority of India (AAI) had earlier told PTI that “civilian air traffic has been suspended temporarily in view of the emergency”. The official, however, did not specify the nature of the emergency, it is believed the step was taken in view of an IAF jet crashing in Budgam district this morning. Two bodies have been recovered from the site.

READ | Mirage, Awacs, Sukhoi, Popeye: How IAF took down Jaish training camp

The entire airspace north of Delhi has been vacated, official sources said, reported PTI. National Security Advisor Ajit Doval was holding a high-level meeting to assess the security situation in the country.

Pakistan shelling in Rajouri

Since Tuesday evening, Pakistani troops had also resorted to firing mortar shells targeting civilian hamlets and forward posts. All government and private schools located within 5 kilometres of the Line of Control (LoC) in the district are closed today. The exams scheduled for today also stand cancelled, District Magistrate, Rajouri told news agency ANI.

In Rajouri, Pakistan fired 120 mm mortars targeting civilian hamlets and forward posts, apart from small and automatic weapons in Krishna Gate, Balakote, Karmara, Mankote, Tarkundi areas of Poonch, Kalal, Baba Khori, Kalsian, Laam and Jhangar. It also attacked Pallanwala and Laleali sub-sectors in Jammu’s Akhnoor sector. In Mankote sector of Poonch, two houses were damaged, sources said.

Meanwhile, five Pakistani posts were destroyed as the Indian Army retaliated to unprovoked cross border heavy shelling and firing of missiles late Tuesday night. Defence Ministry Spokesperson Lt Colonel Devender Anand said the firing resulted in several casualties on the Pakistani side. Five Indian soldiers were also injured during the fight.

In a separate incident, two Jaish terrorists were killed in an encounter in Shopian this morning. Arms and ammunition have been recovered from the site of the encounter, officials told The Indian Express.

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