IAF downs PAF F-16; Two Indian pilots captured, claims Pakistan

New Delhi/Islamabad: India-Pakistan tensions persisted on Wednesday as the IAF chased away intruding Pakistani fighter jets in Jammu and Kashmir’s Nowshera sector with India shooting down a Pakistani F-16 which fell on the Pakistani side.

An Indian military aircraft, however, crashed in Badgam in Jammu and Kashmir, 7 kilometres from the Srinagar International Airport, police said, leading to the suspension of commercial flights across at least eight cities including Leh, Pathankot, Jammu, Srinagar and Amritsar.

India shot down one of the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) F-16s that had come close to the Line of Control (LoC) in Nowshera sector. The aircraft fell three kilometres in Pakistani-administered Kashmir.

As the PAF jets approached the LoC, the Indian Air Force (IAF) scrambled fighters. Retaliatory fire from the ground force forced the F-16s to return but not before one took a hit and went down.

The incident occurred a day after IAF jets bombed the biggest training camp of the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) outfit in Balakot.

“The jets entered the Indian air space over Nowshera in Rajouri district this morning,” a police officer said, adding that the Indian fighter jets on air patrol immediately scrambled and pushed them back beyond the LoC.

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Indian Air Defence Systems have been on maximum alert since Tuesday.

Simultaneously, Indian and Pakistani troops traded heavy fire using mortars and small arms in Jammu and Kashmir’s Uri sector, Defence Ministry sources said.

The clash occurred in Kamalkote area.

Heavy firing was also continuing intermittently at 40 places on the LoC including Poonch, Rajouri and Jammu districts since Tuesday night.

The Indian attack on the JeM training camp came 12 days after a suicide bomber killed 40 Central Reserve Police Force troopers in the worst terror strike in Jammu and Kashmir since militancy hit the state in 1989. The attack was claimed by the Pakistan-based JeM.

2 IAF pilots captured, claims Pakistan

Pakistan claimed on Wednesday that it has captured two Indian pilots, one of whom was identified as Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman. The identity of the other is not known.

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Though India is yet to confirm the development, informed sources said Abhinandan is in the ranks of the Indian Air Force (IAF). He is a son of a retired Air Marshal. A Su-30 pilot, Abhinandan was commissioned in 2004.

A video of the captured pilot was shown on Pakistani news channels. Its veracity is yet to be established.

The other pilot is said to be in hospital.

An earlier tweet by the Inter-Services Public Relations, the media wing of the Pakistan Armed Forces, said: “In response to PAF strikes this morning as released by MoFA (Ministry of Foreign Affairs), IAF crossed LoC.

“PAF (Pakistan Air Force) shot down two Indian aircraft inside Pakistani airspace. One of the aircraft fell inside AJ&K (Pakistan administered Kashmir)… One Indian pilot arrested by troops on ground.”

Jammu and Kashmir police sources had said earlier three PAF F-16 fighter jets violated the Indian airspace in Nowshera sector but were pushed back by the Indian side.

With inputs from IANS

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