Thursday, 18 April, 2019

USA urges India, Pakistan to 'exercise restraint'

Pakistan 'shoots down two Indian jets' over Kashmir – BBC Flights cancelled, diverted as Pakistan closes airspace amidst rising tensions with India
Leonard Rios | 03 March, 2019, 00:07

Ghafoor said the jets had been shot down after Pakistani planes earlier flew across the Line of Control, the de facto border in Kashmir, to the Indian side in a show of strength, hitting non-military targets including supply depots.

Pakistan said it had "taken strikes at [a] non-military target, avoiding human loss and collateral damage".

In New Delhi, India's External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said Wednesday her country does not wished to see further escalation of the situation with Pakistan and that it will continue to act with responsibility and restraint. "I also encouraged both Ministers to prioritise direct communication and avoid further military activity", Pompeo said. The Indian jets intruded into the Pakistani airspace from the Muzaffarabad sector and dropped their payload on what India claimed was a terrorist camp, before they were repelled by timely action from the Pakistan Air Force.

But instead he got a warning against terrorist groups like JeM operating on its soil and, later, a statement calling India's raid on JeM base "counter-terrorism actions".

The strikes followed a suicide bomb attack on February 14, involving a vehicle packed with explosives, on an Indian security convoy in Pulwama which left 40 soldiers dead.

The confrontation represents the first major foreign policy crisis for Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, who is believed to be close to the powerful military and who came to power previous year vowing to seek dialogue with New Delhi.

India has yet to respond to Pakistan's claims.

"If India is striking at so-called terrorist backers without a shred of evidence, we also retain reciprocal rights to retaliate against elements that enjoy Indian patronage while carrying out acts of terror in Pakistan", it added.

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The downing of the Indian aircraft came on a chaotic day that also saw mortar shells fired by Indian troops from across the frontier dividing the two sectors of Kashmir kill six civilians and wound several others.

It comes hours after a Pakistani spokesperson said its nation's armed forces shot down two Indian warplanes in its airspace over disputed Kashmir.

This came shortly after Pakistan said its air force shot down two Indian warplanes after they crossed the boundary between the two nuclear-armed rivals in the disputed territory of Kashmir, and captured two Indian pilots.

The injured pilot was being treated at a military hospital, Ghafoor told a news conference in the garrison town of Rawalpindi.

Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Imran Khan chaired a meeting of the National Command Authority, which controls the country's strategic assets, where the situation arising from Indian aggression was discussed.

Meanwhile, Pakistan has shut down domestic and worldwide flights operating from Lahore, Multan, Faisalabad, Sialkot and Islamabad airports, ANI reported.

Pakistani airports will be used for "military purposes", an official told Dawn News TV, adding that a red alert has also been issued.

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