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Pakistan Says It Shot Down Two Indian Jets, Captured Pilot In Kashmir Escalation


An auto-rickshaw driver reads a newspaper with front-page reports on the Indian air strikes against purported militant camps in Pakistan's territory, in Mumbai, on February 27.

Pakistan says it has shot down two India Air Force jets over the disputed region of Kashmir and captured one pilot on the ground.

The Pakistani military said the country's air force shot down the warplanes on February 27 after they had crossed the Line of Control (LoC) that serves as a de facto border in Kashmir.

Spokesman Major General Asif Ghafoor said that one of the planes crashed in Pakistan-administered Kashmir and the other went down in the Indian-controlled part of the Himalayan region.

The statement came as Indian officials were quoted as saying that Pakistani fighter jets had crossed the Line of Control, but were forced back.

Reports from India also said that an Indian Air Force plane had crashed in India-controlled Kashmir.

An unidentified police officer said that two pilots and a civilian were killed in the crash, the Reuters news agency reported.

Pakistani Foreign Office spokesman Mohammad Faisal confirmed that the Pakistan Air Force “undertook strikes across the LoC from Pakistani airspace."

"Sole purpose of this action was to demonstrate our right, will, and capability for self defense,” he said, adding: “We do not wish to escalate but are fully prepared if forced into that paradigm.”

Also on February 27, Pakistani police said that Indian troops fired mortar shells across the Line of Control, killing six civilians.

The developments come a day after Indian warplanes carried out an air strike in northeastern Pakistan on what New Delhi said was a militant training camp.

India said the strike killed "a very large number" of militants. Pakistan denied there had been casualties, but has warned that it will respond to what it called Indian “aggression.”

Tensions have been high between Islamabad and New Delhi since a February 14 suicide attack that killed at least 41 soldiers in the India-controlled part of Kashmir. The Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) militant group claimed responsibility.

India says its neighbor had a "direct hand" in the attack and accuses it of providing sanctuary to the militants. Islamabad denies involvement.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has called on India and Pakistan to avoid further military activity.

In the February 26 statement, Pompeo said he had spoken with his Indian and Pakistani counterparts.

"I expressed to both ministers that we encourage India and Pakistan to exercise restraint, and avoid escalation at any cost. I also encouraged both ministers to prioritize direct communication and avoid further military activity," he said.

The European Union and China, a Pakistani ally, have also urged India and Pakistan to exercise “restraint” after the Indian air strike in Pakistani territory.

Nuclear-armed India and Pakistan have fought two of their three full-fledged wars over the Himalayan territory since their partition during independence from Britain in 1947.

With reporting by Reuters, AFP, AP, dpa, and RFE/RL's Radio Mashaal
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