India and Pakistan are on the brink of a major confrontation after Pakistan claimed to have shot down two Indian fighter jets in response to New Delhi’s bombing of alleged “terror” targets inside Pakistan.
Tensions have risen since a suicide car bombing by Pakistan-based armed group, Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), in Indian-administered Kashmir killed at least 42 Indian paramilitary forces on February 14.
But the risk of an all-out conflict rose dramatically on Tuesday when India launched an air strikes on what it said was a JeM training base.
On Wednesday morning, New Delhi and Islamabad were engaged in a battle of conflicting military claims.
At least four Pakistani civilians were killed late on Tuesday in cross-border fire between the two nuclear-armed South Asian rivals.
Here are all the latest updates as of Wednesday, February 27:
India, Pakistan partially suspend flights, partially close airspaces
India and Pakistan confirm the partial closure of their airspaces and suspension of commercial flights from several airports on Wednesday.
Pakistan indefinitely closes at least three airports in cities located near the Indian border, military spokesman Asif Ghafoor tells reporters.
All international and domestic flights from major airports including Karachi, Peshawar and Lahore are also suspended for an indefinite period.
Meanwhile, India suspends flights from airports in the disputed region of Kashmir and the state of Punjab until further notice, officials say.
Pakistan does ‘not want to go towards war’: military spokesman
Pakistan’s military spokesman says the country does “not want to go towards war” with India, amid claims that Pakistan shot down two Indian warplanes in its airspace.
“We do not want escalation, we do not want to go towards war,” Major General Asif Ghafoor tells reporters at a press conference in Rawalpindi, a city in western Pakistan.
He adds that the two Indian pilots who have allegedly been captured are “being treated well”. One is currently in custody and the other in hospital.
Pakistan claims it has captured two Indian pilots
Pakistan’s military says two Indian pilots are captured after their planes are shot down over Pakistani airspace. India denies the claim, saying all its pilots are accounted for, according to local media.
Airports in several Indian cities shut, Lahore airport cancels and delays flights
Indian news reports say that airports in the Indian portion of Kashmir have been closed for civilian traffic shortly after an Indian air force jet crashed in the area.
The Press Trust of India news agency says these airports are located at Srinagar, Jammu and Leh. Indian authorities declined to comment.
There are reports that several airports in Pakistan are also shut, but Pakistan’s civil aviation authority says it cannot confirm that at this time. However, the website for the international airport in the eastern city of Lahore appears to show a suspension of flights departing the city.
China reiterates call for restraint
China’s Foreign Ministry reiterates its call for India and Pakistan to exercise restraint.
“We hope that both India and Pakistan can exercise restraint, take initiatives that are conducive to promoting dialogue, meet halfway and make active efforts for lasting peace and stability in South Asia,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang says.
Pakistani warplanes enter Indian airspace, forced back: Indian official
Indian airforce jets intercept at least three Pakistan warplanes that crossed into the Indian-administered Kashmir on Wednesday and force them to turn tail, an Indian official says, amid heightened tensions following an Indian airstrike that targeted a rebel camp inside Pakistan a day earlier.
The Pakistani jets intruded over the Bimber Gali- Noushera sector at the Line of Control, a ceasefire line that serves as the de facto border in the disputed Kashmir region, the official, who is based in the area, says.
The main airport in Srinagar, the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir state, has been shut down for three hours, police in the city says.
India says it doesn’t want ‘escalation’
New Delhi is seeking to ease tensions with Islamabad, as the US urges the nuclear-armed neighbours to “exercise restraint”.
India promised to act, sending warplanes into Pakistani airspace and striking what it says was a camp of Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), the group that claimed the Kashmir bombing.
“The limited objective of that pre-emptive strike was to act decisively against the terrorist infrastructure of Jaish-e-Mohammed in order to pre-empt another terror attack in India,” Indian foreing minister Sushma Swaraj says during talks in China with her counterparts from Beijing and Moscow.
“India does not wish to see further escalation of this situation. India will continue to act with responsibility and restraint”.