MiG lost, pilot missing in action, MEA confirms

One Indian Air Force pilot is missing in action and a MiG 21 fighter jet is lost, the government said this afternoon, a short while after Pakistan claimed to have two Indian pilots in its custody.

At a briefing in New Delhi, Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said an Indian Air Force MiG-21 Bison was “lost” this morning while thwarting Pakistani fighter jets that had entered Indian airspace in Jammu and Kashmir.

The pilot of that MiG-21 is “missing in action”, Raveesh Kumar said. Indian Air Force Air Vice Marshal RGK Kapoor was present at the briefing.

“The pilot is missing in action. Pakistan has claimed that he is in their custody. We are ascertaining the facts,” Raveesh Kumar said.

Kumar also confirmed earlier reports that a Pakistani fighter jet was shot down by Indian fighters.

Earlier, Major General Asif Gafoor, the spokesperson for the Pakistani military, held a press conference claiming that Pakistani fighter jets had carried out “strikes” in Jammu and Kashmir.

The Pakistani jets also took down two Indian Air Force fighters, Ghafoor said, one of which crashed in Paksitan-controlled territory. Both pilots of the crashed jet — a MiG 21 — were taken in custody and one who was injured was being giving treatment.

The Pakistani government also released a video claiming it was of one of the “arrested” pilots. In the video, a man wearing a flight suit is heard saying he is Wing Commander Abhinandan. He is blindfolded and asks whether he is in the custody of the Pakistani military. He says he has a right to know and refuses to answer further questions.

The developments today took place a day after the Indian Air Force carried out a pre-emptive airstrike in Pakistan. The pre-dawn airstrike targetted a Jaish-e-Mohmmad terrorist camp in Balkot.

The camp, Jaish’s largest in Pakistan, was completely destroyed in the strike and several terrorists and commanders were killed, the Indian government said. Sources told India Today TV that the camp attacked was where the Pulwama terror attack, in which 40 Central Reserve Police Force jawans were killed, was planned.

Pakistan denied that an attack had taken place but admitted that Indian Air Force jets entered Pakistani airspace. Islamabad threatened retaliation to the airstrike.

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