February 27, 2019 By King
Pakistan says it has shot down two Indian Air Force jets in a major escalation of the Kashmir conflict.
A spokesman said one plane had fallen inside Pakistani territory and two pilots had been arrested. There is no comment from India. Pakistan has denied reports one of its jets was shot down.
Both India and Pakistan claim all of Kashmir, but control only parts of it.
The nuclear powers have fought several wars since independence from Britain in 1947. All but one were over Kashmir.
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The aerial attacks across the Line of Control (LoC) dividing Indian and Pakistani territory are the first since a war in 1971.
They follow a militant attack in Kashmir which killed 40 Indian troops – the deadliest to take place during a three-decade insurgency against Indian rule in Kashmir. A Pakistan-based group said it carried out the attack.
What’s the latest?
Pakistan’s assertion that it had shot down two Indian aircraft came shortly after Islamabad said its warplanes had struck targets in Indian territory.
Pakistan said it had “taken strikes at [a] non-military target, avoiding human loss and collateral damage”.
Indian authorities said the Pakistani jets had been pushed back.
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In a briefing, Maj Gen Ghafoor says that Pakistan “had no alternative to respond” to Tuesday’s Indian air strikes on its territory.
However he said Pakistan had not hit Indian military targets because “we don’t want to go on the path of war”.
India said Tuesday’s air strikes on Balakot in north-western Pakistan killed a large number of militants but Pakistan said there had been no casualties.
Are flights affected?
India has reportedly announced restrictions on its airspace. The Vistara airline said flights in the region were being suspended. Pakistan has also stopped flights from at least five airports including Islamabad and Lahore, reports say.
The flight monitoring group Flight Radar says international flights are also avoiding the area.
What else is happening?
Troops have been shelling across the LoC. Four Pakistani civilians were killed and 10 others were injured in cross-border shelling on Tuesday.
On the Indian side, five soldiers were also injured in the firing, officials told the BBC. Schools in at least two districts along the LoC – Rajouri and Poonch – have been closed.
People living along the de facto border have been asked to leave their homes.