Ravish Kumar, spokesperson of Indian Ministry of External Affairs, along with Air Vice Marshal R.G.K. Kapoor held a press conference where he read out a prepared statement and declined to take questions.
“Against our counterterrorism action, Pakistan has responded this morning by using its air force,” he said, adding that the Indian Air Force responded instantly. “In this engagement, we lost one MiG 21 [and] pilot is missing in action. Pakistan has claimed, we are assessing the facts,” he said. “In this aerial engagement, one Pakistani aircraft was shot down. The aircraft was seen by ground forces,” he claimed.
India’s air strike on training camp belonging to the armed group, Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) has also led to an exchange of fire between Indian and Pakistani troops causing civilian deaths, said officials. While India dismissed Pakistan’s claim of air strikes causing harm to civilians.
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Nasrullah Khan, a senior hospital official informed media about the killing saying, “So far, four people have been killed in the shelling.” The civilian deaths in Pakistan-administered Kashmir came as India informed that it had launched air raids near Balakot, a town 50km from the LoC inside Pakistan’s territory.
“An Indian mortar shell hit a house in Nakyal sector along the Line of Control that killed a mother, daughter, and son,” local disaster management authority official Shariq Tariq told news agency.
Meanwhile, Indian media reports stated that at least five of India’s soldiers were also wounded in cross-border firing along the LoC. The raids followed a suicide attack in Pulwama which killed 42 Indian troops when a rebel rammed his explosives-laden car into a paramilitary convoy.
The Indian government, facing a general election in April and May, said the attack hit a training camp belonging to the armed group, Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), which claimed the responsibility for the deadly terror attack.
“The existence of such training facilities, capable of training hundreds of jihadis, could not have functioned without the knowledge of the Pakistani authorities,” Indian Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale Gokhale said. Pakistan dismissed India’s claim, saying, “the Indian aircraft had dropped their bombs in a wooded area, causing no damage or casualties”. Calling India’s air raids as “reckless and fictitious”, Pakistan said: “it would respond in due course at a time and place of its choosing”.
After the cross-border attack, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistan counterpart Imran Khan both summoned emergency meetings of top ministers. The tensions between India and Pakistan has disturbed the international community, with China and the European Union calling for both sides to show restraint.
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