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India says 2 air force pilots killed as aircraft crashes in Indian-controlled Kashmir

People's Daily Online

(Xinhua) 16:44, February 27, 2019

NEW DELHI/ISLAMABAD, Feb. 27 (Xinhua) -- A pilot and a co-pilot of Indian Air Force (IAF) were killed after a Mi-17 jet crashed Wednesday in Indian-controlled Kashmir, Indian officials said.

The jet crashed at village Garend Kalan of Budgam, about 34 km south of Srinagar city, the summer capital of Indian-controlled Kashmir.

"The IAF aircraft crashed here today in an open field. Two bodies have been found at crash site and most probably they are pilot and co-pilot," senior local government official Sehrish Asgar told Xinhua over phone, adding that "the aircraft was on a routine sortie in the area."

According to officials, police and IAF teams have rushed to the spot to ascertain the cause of the crash.

Locals said the aircraft broke into two and caught fire after it crashed.

A large crowd of people gathered at the spot following the crash, eyewitnesses said.

"We heard an huge explosion and suddenly flames and smoke rose from an open field," said a local, Muddasir Ahmad, adding that "when we rushed to the spot, we found the fighter jet broken and in flames."

Meanwhile, Pakistan army said on Wednesday the Pakistan Air Force has shot down two Indian fighter jets inside Pakistani airspace and ground troops arrested one pilot of the destroyed jet, according to a military statement.

Director General of Pakistan's Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), the army's media wing, Major General Asif Ghafoor said one of the aircraft fell inside Pakistan-administered Kashmir while the other fell inside Indian-controlled Kashmir.

The military said the Indian fighter jets were intercepted and destroyed by the Pakistani side when they entered into Pakistani airspace on Wednesday morning, after "Pakistan Air Force undertook strikes across Line of Control (LoC) from within Pakistani airspace."

The incident came a day after the Pakistani army said Indian fighter jets violated the LoC on Tuesday and released payloads in the Pakistani side.

India claimed that its air force had targeted a camp of Jaish-e-Muhammad group in Tuesday's attack. The group was blamed for the Feb. 14 suicide bombing in Indian-controlled Kashmir that killed some 40 Indian paramilitary troopers.

Pakistan's Foreign Ministry spokesman said "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 a clear warning and in broad daylight."



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