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Serious Escalation: Pakistan Says It Has Indian Pilot

Violence called 'most serious escalation' of countries' long-simmering conflict since 1999
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 27, 2019 2:37 AM CST
Updated Feb 27, 2019 8:21 AM CST
Indian army soldiers stand near the wreckage of an Indian aircraft after it crashed in Budgam area, outskirts of Srinagar, Indian controlled Kashmir, Wednesday, Feb.27, 2019.   (AP Photo/Mukhtar Khan)
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(Newser)

Pakistan's military said Wednesday it shot down two Indian warplanes in the disputed region of Kashmir and captured a pilot, raising tensions between the nuclear-armed rivals to a level unseen in the last two decades. The military's spokesman, Maj. Gen. Asif Ghafoor, originally said two pilots were captured; he did not explain what caused the confusion. India acknowledged one of its air force planes was "lost" in skirmishes with Pakistan and that its pilot was "missing in action" on a chaotic day, which also saw mortar shells fired by Indian troops from across the frontier dividing the two sectors of Kashmir kill six civilians. Pakistan responded by shutting down its civilian airspace as Prime Minister Imran Khan called for negotiations with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi, to ensure "better sense can prevail." There was no immediate reaction from Modi. More from the AP:

  • The Indian aircraft went down Wednesday morning in Kashmir, a mountainous region claimed by both India and Pakistan since almost immediately after their creation in 1947. One of the downed planes crashed in Pakistan's part of Kashmir while the other went down in Indian-controlled section of the Himalayan region, Ghafoor said. The captured pilot was injured and is being treated at a military hospital, Ghafoor said; he made no mention of the pilot being returned to India. "We have no intention of escalation, but are fully prepared to do so if forced into that paradigm," he added.
  • Though Pakistani and Indian troops in Kashmir often trade fire, the latest casualties came a day after tensions escalated sharply following a pre-dawn airstrike and incursion by India that New Delhi said targeted a terrorist training camp in northwestern Pakistan. Tuesday's pre-dawn strike by India was its first inside of Pakistan since the two nations' 1971 war over territory that later became Bangladesh. Pakistan had said that Indian warplanes dropped bombs near the Pakistani town of Balakot but there were no casualties.
  • The violence Wednesday marked the most serious escalation of the long-simmering conflict since 1999, when Pakistan's military sent a ground force into Indian-controlled Kashmir at Kargil. That year also saw an Indian fighter jet shoot down a Pakistani naval aircraft, killing all 16 on board.
(Read more India-Pakistan relations stories.)

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