Pakistan shoots down two Indian jets and carries out airstrikes in Kashmir' | Daily Mail Online

Pakistan has shot down two Indian warplanes over the disputed territory of Kashmir, one day after New Delhi launched an airstrike against a jihadist militant camp in the country, an armed forces spokesperson said.

One plane went down on India's side of the territory, while the other was said to have crashed on Pakistan's side of the region.

Two Indian Air Force pilots in the second plane were captured by Pakistani troops, Major General Asif Ghafoor said. 

Pakistan's foreign ministry said they have 'no intention of escalation, but are fully prepared to do so if forced into that paradigm' adding that the planes had been shot down 'with clear warning and in broad daylight.' 

Officials in Indian-occupied Kashmir confirmed that an air force plane had crashed in Budgam, some 18 miles from Srinagar, killing two Indian pilots and a civilian, but would not say if the plane had been shot down by Pakistani forces. 

The downing of the planes came hours after Pakistan said mortar shells fired by Indian troops from across the Kashmir border, also known as the Line of Control (LoC), killed six civilians and wounded several others.  

Indian soldiers and Kashmiri onlookers stand near the remains of an Indian Air Force (IAF) aircraft after it crashed in Budgam district in Indian-occupied Kashmir

Police officials in Indian-occupied Kashmir said that two Indian pilots and a civilian had died after an air force plane crashed, but would not confirm if the plane had been shot down by Pakistani forces

Captured: Photos shared on social media purports to show the moment when one of the Indian Air Force pilots is arrested in Pakistani Kashmir

Pakistan has now shut its airspace to all commercial flights 'until further notice', hours after  the Indian air force closed Kashmir's main airport in Srinagar along with at least three others in neighboring states, because of the escalation. 

Speaking at a press conference in the garrison city of Rawalpindi, Maj. Gen. Ghafoor called for talks with New Delhi, saying: 'We do not want escalation, we do not want to go towards war.'

Maj. Gen. Ghafoor said the Indian jets had been shot down after Pakistani planes flew across the LoC, hitting non-military targets including supply depots. Afterwards, he said, the two Indian planes crossed the LoC into Pakistani airspace.

'The Pakistan Air Force was ready, they took them on, there was an engagement. As a result both the Indian planes were shot down and the wreckage of one fell on our side while the wreckage of the other fell on their side,' he said, adding that one of the Indian pilots was in custody and the other in hospital.

Indian sources confirmed Pakistani fighter jets had violated airspace over Indian Kashmir, but said they were forced back over the LoC, and there was no immediate response to the claim the planes had been shot down. 

Tensions between the two nuclear armed rivals have been elevated since a suicide car bombing by Pakistan-based militants in Indian-controlled Kashmir killed at least 40 Indian paramilitary police on February 14. 

The risk of conflict rose dramatically after India launched an air strike on what it said was a training base for the  Jaish-e-Mohammed jihadist militant group that claimed credit for the suicide attack in Pakistan's Balakot region on Tuesday.

Downed: Video footage shows the plane that crashed in Indian-occupied Kashmir burning

Locals and Indian soldiers have gathered around the remains of an Indian Air Force aircraft after it crashed in Budgam district, some 18 miles from Srinagar

Pakistan's armed forces claim the second plane, not pictured, went down on their side of the Kashmir border and that the pilot of the other plane was captured by Pakistani troops

Escalations: This map shows where one of the downed planes crashed in Indian Kashmir, as well as where Tuesday's airstrikes  against an alleged jihadist militant training camp in the Balakot region took place  just days after a suicide bomb attack in Indian Kashmir

But while India said a large number of JeM fighters had been killed, Pakistani officials said the Indian airstrike was a failure and inflicted no casualties.   

On Tuesday evening, Pakistan began shelling using heavy calibre weapons in 12 to 15 places along the de facto border in Kashmir, known as the Line of Control (LoC), a spokesman for the Indian defence forces said.

'The Indian Army retaliated for effect and our focused fire resulted in severe destruction to five posts and number of casualties,' the spokesman said.

Five Indian soldiers suffered minor wounds in the shelling that ended on Wednesday morning, he added.

'So far there are no (civilian) casualties but there is panic among people,' said Rahul Yadav, the deputy commissioner of the Poonch district where some of the shelling took place.

'We have an evacuation plan in place and if need arises we will evacuate people to safer areas,' he said.

Local officials on the Pakistani side said at least four people had been killed and seven wounded, though it was unclear if the casualties were civilian or military.

Indian jets launched strikes on a militant camp in Pakistan territory with New Delhi claiming the raid killed a 'very large' number of fighters preparing an attack. Footage has emerged purportedly showing jets in the sky overnight

India's Border Security Force (BSF) soldiers patrol along the fenced border with Pakistan in Ranbir Singh Pura sector near Jammu on Tuesday

Warplanes pounded a camp belonging to Jaish-e-Mohammad, the group that claimed a suicide bombing that killed dozens of troops in Indian Kashmir, the country's Foreign Secretary claimed. Pictured: Trees damaged by the raid Tuesday

India has also continued its crackdown on suspected militants operating in Kashmir, a mountainous region that both countries claim in full but rule in part.

On Wednesday, security forces killed two Jaish militants in a gun battle, Indian police said.

Pakistan has promised to retaliate to Tuesday's air strikes, and security across India has been tightened. The two countries have fought three wars since independence from British colonial rule in 1947 and went to the brink a fourth in 2002 after a Pakistani militant attack on India's parliament.

In Mumbai, India's financial capital, there was a visible increase in security levels for a city that has suffered numerous militant attacks in the past.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke separately with the foreign ministers of India and Pakistan and urged them to avoid 'further military activity' following Tuesday's airstrike.

'I expressed to both ministers that we encourage India and Pakistan to exercise restraint, and avoid escalation at any cost,' Pompeo said in a statement on Wednesday.

'I also encouraged both ministers to prioritize direct communication and avoid further military activity,' he said.

Both China and the European Union have also called for restraint. On Wednesday New Zealand's foreign minister Winston Peters also voiced concern over the escalation in tensions.