India rejects Pakistan’s claim of Air Force jet being shot down

India  denied Pakistani claims of shooting down Indian Air Force jets and said “all our pilots are accounted for” after Islamabad put out a statement claiming “strikes across Line of Control from within Pakistani airspace”, the allegations reflecting an escalation of hostilities a day after Indian fighter jets destroyed a terror training camp within Pakistan.

A Pakistani F-16 aircraft crashed on its own territory, in the Lam Valley area along the Line of Control. There have been reports of Pakistani fighter jets violating Indian air space in Jammu and Kashmir’s Poonch and Rajouri sectors.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is meeting with top officials including National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, the Defence and Foreign Secretaries and intelligence officials.

Amid rising tension, many airports in north India have been shut down till May. These are at Amritsar, Chandigarh, Dehradun, Jammu, Srinagar and Leh. Commercial flights to those cities have been put on hold.

Pakistan has also stopped flights from Islamabad and Lahore.

The area near the Line of Control has been on high alert amid warnings of retaliation after India’s fighter jets destroyed a terror camp of the Jaish-e-Mohammed, which was behind the Pulwama terror attack in which over 40 soldiers were killed. India said it was a “non-military and pre-emptive” strike based on credible inputs that Jaish was training suicide bombers for more such attacks.

In a press release titled “Pakistani Strikes Back”, Islamabad said on its strike claim: “This was not retaliation to continued Indian belligerence. Pakistan has therefore, taken strikes at non-military target, avoiding human loss and collateral damage. Sole purpose being to demonstrate our 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. That is why we undertook the action with clear warning and in broad daylight.”

Amid the biggest escalation between the two countries in decades, several countries have urged restraint.

This morning, Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj said during a trilateral meeting in China that India wants to avoid any “further escalation of the situation”.


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