Pakistan said it shot down two Indian aircraft in the disputed region of Kashmir on Wednesday and arrested the pilots, prompting both countries to shut down large swathes of airspace as tensions between them reached their highest point since a 1971 war.

Indian soldiers and Kashmiri onlookers stand near the remains of an Indian Air Force aircraft after it crashed in Budgam district, on the outskirts of Srinagar on February 27, 2019. (Photo by Tauseef MUSTAFA / AFP)

India has so far not issued a response. Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan is expected to make a statement on the escalation shortly.

One Indian aircraft fell inside Pakistan-controlled Kashmir, and the other crashed on India’s side of the Line of Control, said military spokesman Asif Ghafoor. One pilot is injured and receiving medical treatment and the other is in custody, he said at a news conference in Islamabad. “Both are under arrest and we are treating them with dignity.”

Videos are circulating on social media that claim to show the arrested Indian pilots in Pakistan’s custody. In one, the pilot states his name, service number and religion, while in a separate clip, an injured pilot is being transported in a vehicle. Ghafoor said that man was under treatment at the Combined Military Hospital.

India’s ANI news agency is reporting that a Pakistan F-16 which violated Indian air space was shot down three kilometers within Pakistan territory in Lam Valley. Ghafoor said Pakistan didn’t use F-16 planes in the operation.

“This is unprecedented territory — we haven’t had tit-for-tat air strikes between India and Pakistan since the 1971 war,” said Anit Mukherjee, a former Indian Army major and assistant professor at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore, by phone.
“We don’t know what will come from this. But it seems like Pakistan has given a response. And there have been casualties — captures, deaths.”
Source : Bloomberg

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