Flights disrupted as India-Pakistan tensions escalate

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  • Airports in Srinagar, Jammu, Leh, Amritsar and Chandigarh have reportedly been shut.
  • The incident comes a day after India said it conducted a ‘non military’ ‘pre-emptive’ air strike.
All flights between India and Pakistan were suspended and at least six airports have been shut in North India amid heightened tensions between the nuclear-armed neighbours.

Airports in Srinagar, Jammu, Leh, Amritsar, Dehradun and Chandigarh have reportedly been closed for civilian operations following reports that two planes of the Pakistani air force had entered the Indian air space in Nowshera, Kashmir on Wednesday morning.

India's Minister of External Affairs spokesperson has confirmed the Indian air force had an aerial encounter with Pakistan and that India had shot down one Pakistani jet. India also lost one Mig 21 and one pilot was missing in action, he added.

Earlier, the planes were pushed back by Indian forces, Indian news agencies reported. Meanwhile, Pakistan has claimed it has shot down two Indian fighter jets and had captured one of the pilots.

The crash, which has reportedly killed two Indian pilots and one civilian, took place in Budgam in Kashmir. India has restricted air space in parts of Jammu & Kashmir, closing airports in Srinagar, Leh and Jammu.

The incident comes a day after India said it conducted a ‘non military’ ‘pre-emptive’ air strike at a terror camp across the Line of Control with Pakistan. The use of air force was the first since India fought Pakistan in 1971.

The target terror camp struck by India was located in Balakot, about 50 miles from the LOC. The air strike came in the wake of a suicide bomber attack on February 14 in Pulwama, Kashmir that killed over 40 security personnel.

India has so far emphasised it's air raid on Tuesday was ‘pre-emptive’ and ‘non-military’, signaling it didn't wish to escalate the conflict.

India’s external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj told diplomats from China and Russia that “India will continue to act with responsibility and restrain.”

On Wednesday, in the wake of the violation of India’s air space, Pakistani foreign ministry also said it “had no intention of escalation” but was “fully prepared to do so if forced into that paradigm” Reuters reported.

Both US and China have asked the two countries to act with restraint. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo asked India and Pakistan to exercise restraint and to prioritise communication. On Tuesday, China had also urged both countries to exercise restraint, and stressing for “cooperation” by the two countries in the interest of peace and stability in the South Asia region.
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