Pakistan says it has shot down Indian jets after Kashmir cross-border attack

Indian news agency reports Pakistani jet may have been shot down on day of skirmishes

Pakistan says it has conducted airstrikes over Kashmir’s ceasefire line and shot down two Indian jets. Photo: Pakistan Air Force
Pakistan says it has conducted airstrikes over Kashmir’s ceasefire line and shot down two Indian jets. Photo: Pakistan Air Force

Pakistan has conducted airstrikes over the ceasefire line in disputed Kashmir and claims to have shot down two Indian jets that responded by entering Pakistani airspace, capturing one of the pilots.

The incursions, a day after India flew sorties into Pakistan for the first time in nearly 50 years, are the latest escalations in the most serious military crisis in south Asia since the nuclear-armed neighbours fought a brief war in the Himalayas in 1999.

The Indian news agency ANI reported on Wednesday that a Pakistani F-16 fighter jet was also shot down on its side of the ceasefire line dividing the two armies in Kashmir.

Pakistan has suspended domestic air travel in Lahore, Islamabad and other cities. At least one private Indian airliner, Vistara, said airspace across north India had been closed and flights to and from Amritsar, Srinagar, Chandigarh and Jammu have been put on hold.

Islamabad said in a statement on Wednesday morning that it had struck a “non-military target” across the ceasefire line in Kashmir without entering Indian airspace to demonstrate its “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,” the Pakistan armed forces said in a statement.

Pakistan’s armed forces spokesman, Major-General Asif Ghafoor, claimed that in response to the strikes, Indian jets crossed the ceasefire line. Two were shot down, he said. “One of the aircraft fell inside AJ&K [Pakistan-controlled Kashmir] while other fell inside IOK [Indian-controlled Kashmir]. One Indian pilot arrested by troops on ground while two in the area,” he said on Twitter.

India has been on high alert since Tuesday’s strikes, an operation Islamabad promised to repay with its own “surprise” attack.

The US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, issued a statement largely supportive of India, characterising its incursion five miles into neighbouring territory a “counter terrorism action” and calling on Pakistan to take “meaningful action against terrorist groups operating on its soil”.

India claims it hit a militant training camp and killed “a very large number” of fighters from the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) group, which took responsibility for a 14 February suicide bombing in Indian-controlled Kashmir that killed 40 paramilitaries.

On Wednesday morning, India’s external affairs minister, Sushma Swaraj, emphasised that Pakistan’s military was not the target of the sorties. “No military installations were targeted,” Swaraj said. “The limited objective of the pre-emptive strike was to act decisively against the terrorist infrastructure of the JeM in order to pre-empt another terrorist attack in India.”

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