Tensions escalate between two archrivals after India bombed targets inside Pakistan following deadly Kashmir attack.

India and Pakistan are on the brink of a major confrontation after the latter claimed to have shot down two Indian fighter jets in response to the bombing of alleged “terror” targets inside Pakistan.

Tensions have risen since a suicide car bombing by Pakistan-based armed group, Jaish-e-Muhammad(JeM), in Indian-administered Kashmir killed at least 42 Indian paramilitary forces on February 14.

qatar airways

But the risk of an all-out conflict rose dramatically on Tuesday when India launched air raids 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 the cross-border fire between the two nuclear-armed South Asian rivals.

Here are all the latest updates as of Friday, March 1:

Modi praises returned pilot

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi says in a tweet India is “proud” of returned pilot Abhinandan Varthaman’s “exemplary courage”.

Narendra Modi

@narendramodi

Welcome Home Wing Commander Abhinandan!

The nation is proud of your exemplary courage.

Our armed forces are an inspiration for 130 crore Indians.

Vande Mataram!

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Modi has been accused by opposition politicians of exploiting the ongoing confrontation with Pakistan for political gains ahead of India’s upcoming elections, which are scheduled to be held in April and May.

Pakistan releases captured Indian pilot

Pakistan has released captured Indian pilot Abhinandan Varthaman, handing him back to Indian authorities after days of hostility between the nuclear-armed neighbours.

He crossed over into India by foot, escorted by Pakistani troops and Indian diplomats.

Al Jazeera’s Sohail Rahman, reporting from the Indian capital, New Delhi, says the processing of Varthaman’s return at the Wagah-Attari border crossing had appeared to have gone “according to plan, though the Pakistani’s have delayed the release of the Wing Commander at least three times during the day”.

“We don’t know why there has been a delay, but it seems that the wing commander … is now on his way home,” Rahman says.

Varthaman crosses over into India by foot, escorted by Pakistani troops and Indian diplomats [PTV via Reuters]

Indian defence official Air Vice Marshal R.G.K. Kapoor tells reporters at the scene Varthaman is being taken for medical checks.

“This check-up is mandated particularly because the officer has had to eject from an aeroplane,” Kapoor says.

Situation remains ‘critical’

Al Jazeera’s Kamal Hyder, reporting from Pakistan’s capital, Islamabad, says the situation remains “critical” following Varthaman’s release amid concerns over how to “defuse this escalating crisis”.

“The Pakistani military is on full red alert, they are flying constant air patrols all over Pakistan and although the airspace has been open, the movement of aircraft between India and Pakistan, especially commercial aircraft is still under restrictions,” Hyder says.

Pakistan has handed pilot Abhinandan Varthaman over to Indians at the Wagah border [B.K. Bangash/AP]

“What we are being told here in Pakistan is that the Indians are still in a belligerent mood, that Modi is trying to capitalise on this crisis for the elections coming up within the next two months,” he adds.

“So the ball, as far as Pakistan is concerned, is in India’s court.”

Red cross expected to process pilot’s return

Al Jazeera’s Sohail Rahman, reporting from the Indian capital, New Delhi, says Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman’s release and return to India is likely going to be processed by the Red Cross as “neutral arbiters”.

“We do not expect any sort of a press conference with the Wing Commander but there may be a press statement or a press conference with senior air force or military officials later in the day,” Rahman says, adding the pilot’s release was unlikely to end the ongoing row between Islamabad and New Delhi.

“As far as India is concerned the situation is still very tense, Indian-administered Kashmir is still under curfew, there was a skirmish on Thursday with cross-border firing which resulted in the death of one woman … and earlier on Friday there has been an ongoing gun battle in the area of Handwara [in Indian-administered Kashmir] where four security personnel and one civilian have been killed,” Rahman says.

“Regardless of what’s going on with the wing commander and him being transferred back to India, the situation in terms of any semblance of peace and tranquility is certainly far from it. The fighting continues in the administered areas, both on the Pakistani and Indian side, and the [Indian] government itself says it is still going to deal with Pakistan and isolate it internationally.”

Pakistan’s army chief holds talks with US, UK military officials

Pakistan’s army chief Qamar Javed Bajwa has spoken with top military officials from the United States, Britain and Australia amid a volatile standoff with neighbouring India, according to a spokesperson for the country’s armed forces.

Military spokeperson Major General Asif Ghafoor says in a tweet on Friday that Bajwa discussed the ongoing spat with India and its “impact on peace & stability in the region” in a call with US Central Command Commander Joseph Votel as well as with top British and Australian military figures.

Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor

@OfficialDGISPR

COAS had tel comm with Comd USCENTCOM, CDS UK, CDF Australia and Ambs of US, UK & China in Pak. Prevailing stand off between Pakistan & India & its impact on peace & stability in the region & beyond discussed. “Pak shall surely respond to any aggression in self defence”, COAS.

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Bajwa vows Pakistan would “surely respond to any aggression in self-defence”, according to the Twitter post. Ghafoor confirms Bajwa has also spoken by phone with the ambassadors of China, Britain, and the United States.

Indian PM Modi pledges tough response to ‘terror’

India’s prime minister says a tough response by his country’s armed forces to recent attacks in Indian-controlled Kashmir have curtailed the influence of “terror” groups in the country.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi pledged to curtail acts of “terrorism” further.

Modi, who faces elections this spring, spoke at a public rally on Friday in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu.

Pakistan brings Indian pilot to border for handover

Pakistani officials have brought the Indian pilot captured from a downed plane to the Wagah border crossing with India for handover.

On the Indian side of the border, turbaned Indian policemen lined the road as a group of cheering Indian residents from the area waved India’s national flag and held up a huge garland of flowers to welcome Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman back.

Pakistan to lodge ‘eco-terrorism’ complaint against India

Pakistan plans to lodge a complaint against India at the United Nations, accusing it of “eco-terrorism” over air raids that damaged pine trees and brought the nuclear-armed nations to blows, a government minister said on Friday.

Indian warplanes on Tuesday bombed a hilly forest area near the northern Pakistani town of Balakot, about 40 km (25 miles) from India’s border in the Himalayan region of Kashmir.  New Delhi said it had destroyed an armed training camp and killed hundreds of “terrorists” – which Pakistan denied.

Climate Change Minister Malik Amin Aslam said Indian jets bombed a “forest reserve” and the government was undertaking an environmental impact assessment, which will be the basis of a complaint at the UN and other forums.

“What happened over there is environmental terrorism,” Aslam told Reuters news agency, adding that dozens of pine trees had been felled. “There has been serious environmental damage.”

Pakistan partially reopens airspace

Four Pakistani airports will begin partial operations on Friday with a full resumption of commercial flights on Monday, the country’s civil aviation authority said.

The agency issued a statement on Friday saying some domestic and international flights will be allowed to and from the cities of Karachi, Islamabad, Peshawar and Quetta.

It said full operations at all airports, including the one located in the eastern city of Lahore that borders India, will resume on March 4 at 1pm local time (08.00 GMT).

Thousands gather at border to welcome Indian pilot

People and media gather before the arrival of an Indian air force pilot, who was captured by Pakistan on Wednesday, near Wagah border, on the outskirts of the northern Indian city of Amritsar [Danish Siddiqui/Reuters]

Thousands of Indians, some waving flags and singing, gathered on Friday to give a hero’s welcome to an Indian air force pilot due to be returned across the border after being shot down by Pakistan.

Media on both sides of the Wagah border crossing was pushed back around 1 kilometre from the border, sources told Al Jazeera.

“He [Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman] will be debriefed by not only the secret service, but mainly the air force and there will be no media sound bites from him for the foreseeable future as and when he will come back to Indian soil,” said Al Jazeera’s Sohail Rahman, reporting from the Indian capital, New Delhi.

“That is part of the protocol when you are, in theory, a prisoner of war,” he added.

Read our full storyhere.

People shout slogans before the arrival of Abhinandan near Wagah border on Friday [Danish Siddiqui/Reuters]

 

Pakistan FM boycotts OIC meeting

Pakistan’s foreign minister said on Friday he would not attend a meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation in Abu Dhabi this weekend because his Indian counterpart had been invited to the event.

“I will not go to the council of foreign ministers,” Shah Mahmood Qureshi told parliament in the capital, Islamabad, adding that lower ranking officials would attend to represent Pakistan’s interests.

Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj has been invited by the Emirati hosts as a “guest of honour” to the two-day gathering, set to kick off on Friday.

Qureshi said India is neither a member of the 57-nation organisation nor has observer status.

Social media fake news fans tension

With India and Pakistan standing on the brink of war this week, several false videos, pictures and messages circulated widely on social media, sparking anger and heightening tension in both countries.

The video of an injured pilot from a recent Indian air show and images from a 2005 earthquake have been taken out of context to attempt to mislead tens of millions on platforms like Twitter, Facebook and its messenger service, WhatsApp.

Pratik Sinha, co-founder of fact-checking website, Alt News, said they had received requests to verify news from journalists and people on social media.

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India-Pakistan crisis: What we know so far

“It’s been crazy since Tuesday. There is so much out there that we know is fake, but we’re not able to fact-check all of it,” Sinha told Reuters news ageny.

In Pakistan, a purported video of a second captured Indian pilot was being widely circulated. Fact-checking website Boom noted the clip was from an air show in the southern Indian city of Bengaluru, where two planes crashed on February 19.

“Everyone has a role to play in ensuring misinformation doesn’t spread on the internet and we encourage people who use Twitter not to share information unless they can verify that it’s true,” a spokeswoman for Twitter said.

Thursday, February 28

JeM chief in Pakistan, says FM

The founder of armed group Jaish-e-Mohammed, Masood Azhar, is in Pakistan and is “very unwell”, Pakistan’s foreign minister has revealed.

“He’s unwell to the extent that he cannot leave his house. Thats the information I have,” Shah Mehmood Qureshi told the CNN in an exclusive interview on Thursday.

When questioned why he was not arrested, Qureshi replied: “If they [India] give us evidence which is acceptable to the courts of Pakistan… they [JeM] will go to the court.”

“If they [India] have solid inalienable evidence, share it with us so that we can convince the people and the independent judiciary of Pakistan,” he added.

Putin hopes for prompt settlement

Russian President Vladimir Putin has expressed hope for a prompt settlement between India and Pakistan, according to a Kremlin statement.

Putin spoke to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the telephone on Thursday.

The Russian leader expressed his condolences on the Pulwama suicide attack on February 14 that killed Indian paramilitary troops.

“The two leaders condemned international terrorism and any methods used to support it, stressing the need to step up the uncompromising fight against the terrorist threat,” the statement read.

UAE crown prince speaks to Modi, Khan

UAE Crown Prince Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed held telephone conversations on Thursday with both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Imran Khan in an effort to defuse tensions between the two neighbours.

“Mohammed bin Zayed emphasised on the importance of addressing recent developments and prioritising dialogue and communication,” according to his Twitter account.

Turkey’s Erdogan welcomes pilot’s release

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan welcomed Pakistan’s announcement to release the Indian fighter pilot it captured after downing his jet, Prime Minister Imran Khan’s party said.

In a telephone conversation, Khan and Erdogan discussed the recent tensions between India and Pakistan, as well as recent developments in the region, the Turkish president’s office confirmed.

India bans Jamaat-e-Islami in Kashmir

Indian government bans Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI) in Indian-administered Kashmir for five years, accusing it of supporting an armed rebellion in the disputed region that is at the heart of an escalating conflict with rival Pakistan.

India’s home ministry said the JeI has been banned for “unlawful association” and for activities “prejudicial to internal security and public order”.

Read our full story here.

India on ‘heightened’ alert despite Pakistan promise on pilot

India is welcoming Pakistan’s decision to free a captured pilot whose Mig-21 fighter was shot down in air raids this week, but top generals from the army and air force make it clear that their forces remain on high alert to respond to any “provocation” from Islamabad.

“We are happy that our pilot, who had fallen across the line of control and was in the custody of Pakistan, is being released,” says R J K Kapoor, air vice marshal.

“We are extremely happy to have him back. We want to see him back,” he tells reporters.

Standing alongside him, Major General Surendra Singh Mahal of the Indian army warns Pakistan: “We are fully prepared and in a heightened state of readiness to respond to any provocation from Pakistan.”

Kashmir – Uneasy calm by day, ‘sheer terror’ at night

In the village of Bakoot, just a few kilometers away from the disputed Pakistan-India frontier, an uneasy calm prevails during the day. But the nights bring sheer terror, with darkness accompanied by a furious exchange of artillery shelling.

Read our correspondent Imran Khan’s dispatch from Pakistan-administered Kashmir here.

Modi criticised for ‘politicising’ Pakistan standoff

India’s opposition parties and civil society groups are criticising Modi for continuing his scheduled public events, including an election rally, while staying mum amid a major military stand-off with Pakistan.

Read our full report here.

Pompeo urges ratcheting down of India, Pakistan tensions

Mike Pompeo, US secretary of state, says he has spoken with the leaders of India and Pakistan and has urged them to avoid “any action that would escalate and greatly increase risk”.

Pakistani airspace to open at 6pm on March 1

Pakistan’s airspace will remain closed to commercial flights until 6pm local time (13.00 GMT) on Friday, the country’s civil aviation authority said.

International flights have been rerouted, causing delays, instead of taking the normal route over the India-Pakistan airspace.

Flightradar24

@flightradar24

Pakistani Airspace has just been opened for some flights. Air Arabia is the first flight to leave Pakistanhttps://www.flightradar24.com/ABY825/1fa5af1d 

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PM: Pakistan to release Indian pilot tomorrow

Prime Minister Imran Khan says Pakistan will release the Indian pilot on Friday, two days after he was captured.

“We have an Indian pilot. As a peace gesture we will release him tomorrow,” Khan told a joint sitting of parliament in the capital, Islamabad on Thursday.

Khan also said he had unsuccessfully tried to make telephone contact with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi on Wednesday night.

Read the full report here.

Pakistan on high alert along LoC

Pakistan’s army is on “high alert” along the Line of Control – the de facto border dividing Kashmir into two parts, each administered by India and Pakistan.

“Pakistan armed forces are in a state of readiness for all eventualities,” a military statement on Thursday said.

Imran Khan ‘ready to speak’ to Indian PM Modi

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan is ready to speak with his Indian counterpart, Narendra Modi, on telephone, while offering peace, Pakistan’s foreign minister has said.

Speaking to local television channel Geo News on Thursday, Shah Mehmood Qureshi said that Pakistan is prepared to return the captured Indian pilot if it helps reduce tensions.

“I am sending a message to India: if the return of this pilot allows for a de-escalation, then Pakistan is ready to consider it,” Qureshi said.

“If you have any concerns, share them. If you have any evidence, give it to us. Today, [India] has sent a dossier … we have received it, we will examine it, and now come and speak to us on the basis of this dossier.”

“Pakistan is ready for any positive step,” he added. “Pakistan is ready to de-escalate the situation.”

Read the full story here.

Trump hopeful for India-Pakistan peace

US President Donald Trump is hopeful that India and Pakistan may be on the cusp of progress after increasing tensions.

Trump told reporters at the end of a two-day summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong un in Vietnam that India and Pakistan have “been going at it” and that the US has been involved, “trying to help them both out” to “see if we can get some organisation and some peace.”

“Hopefully that’s going to be coming to an end,” he said in the Vietnamese capital, Hanoi, on Thursday.

“I think probably that’s going to be happening,” adding: “We have, I think, reasonably decent news from Pakistan and India.”

India-Pakistan crisis: What we know so far

It has been two weeks since the suicide car bombing in Indian-administered Kashmir that killed at least 42 Indian paramilitary troops, sparking tensions between India and Pakistan.

Here is a look at all the events and reactions to the crisis so far.

UK urges restraint and de-escalation

British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt has expressed concern at the current situation in the region, urging India and Pakistan to show restraint and de-escalate, Pakistan’s foreign ministry said.

Hunt spoke to Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on the phone on Wednesday evening.

Qureshi called on the UK to “play its due role in bringing down tensions between Pakistan and India.”

“The foreign minister added that the captured Indian air force pilot would be treated humanely in accordance with the Geneva Conventions,” the ministry statement on Thursday said.

Signed in 1949 by representatives of 64 countries, the Geneva Conventions govern the protection for wounded members of armed forces, prisoners of war and civilians during armed conflict.

India-Pakistan rail link suspended

The operation of a bi-weekly cross-border train service between India’s capital New Delhi and Pakistan’s eastern city of Lahore has been temporarily suspended due to the “prevailing tensions” between the two countries.

“Samjhuta Express will resume its operations as soon as the security situation improves between India and Pakistan,” a statement by Pakistan’s foreign ministry said on Thursday.

Pakistan airspace to remain closed till Thursday midnight

Pakistan’s airspace will remain closed to commercial flights until midnight on Thursday, the country’s civil aviation authority said.

CAA Pakistan@AirportPakistan

Since the existing NOTAM is effective until 2359 HRS of 28 February 2019, airspace shall remain closed.

Please stay in touch with your airlines for timely update on any further changes.

PCAA regrets the inconvenience to its patrons. 🇵🇰 Paindabad!

CAA Pakistan@AirportPakistan

NOTAM is still in place & airspace over #Pakistan remains closed.

Apology for an earlier tweet that indicated partial opening of our airspace for commercial aviation.

Any further information will be shared accordingly. 🇵🇰

View image on Twitter
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Pakistan International Airlines, the national carrier, advised its customers to expect further delays, adding that all flights were being rescheduled.

Wednesday, February 27

India demands ‘safe’ return of pilot

India’s foreign ministry has told Pakistan’s acting high commissioner that New Delhi expects the immediate and safe return of a military pilot held by Pakistan after two Indian fighter jets were shot down over Pakistani airspace.

“It was made clear that Pakistan would be well advised to ensure that no harm comes to the Indian defence personnel in its custody. India also expects his immediate and safe return,” the foreign ministry said in a statement on Wednesday.

‘There is no camp here, and no terrorists either’

Al Jazeera’s Asad Hashim reports from the site of Tuesday’s air raid by the Indian Air Force and found no sign of serious casualties or structural damage.

Read his full report here.

Life on the Line of Control

For villagers living on the de facto border between Indian and Pakistani-administered Kashmir, the threat of war is ever present.

Even when there is not all out conflict, shelling and clashes between Indian and Pakistani soldiers are not uncommon.

Journalist Rifat Fareed reports from the village of Silikot in the Indian-controlled side of the region, where she met residents whose lives have been scarred by conflict.

Read her full report here.

Pakistan and India, face to face

What is the Line of Control?

The Line of Control (LoC) is a 740km de-facto border separating Pakistani and Indian-administered Kashmir.

Islamabad and New Delhi have fought two wars over Kashmir since independence, with the LoC being the focus of the hostilities.

The actual line marks the military front when the two South Asian states declared a ceasefire ending the First India-Pakistan War.

Iran offers to mediate between India and Pakistan

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif spoke on Wednesday on phone with his Pakistani counterpart, Shah Mahmood Qureshi, and offered mediation between India and Pakistan, after rising tensions between the two countries.

Zarif, whose Monday’s resignation was rejected by Rouhani on Wednesday, urged both countries to exercise restraint, the semi-official news agency ISNA reported. ISNA said Zarif is going to speak to his Indian counterpart as well but did not specify any date.

Germany appeals for calm

Germany on Wednesday called on both Pakistan and India to de-escalate tensions after cross-border air raids set the region on edge.

“The federal government makes an urgent appeal for both sides to refrain from steps that could further escalate the conflict,” German Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Adebahr told a news conference in Berlin, adding that India and Pakistan bear responsibility for regional stability.

Indian and Pakistani nuclear power

The Kashmir conflict, explained

In this explainer video, Al Jazeera looks at the history behind the conflict in Kashmir, and the factors that continue to fuel tensions.

India and Pakistan: Face to Face

This handy data set gives you some idea of just how powerful India and Pakistan are. From the number of fighter planes and tanks, to the types of missiles each has, we have you covered.

Flights to Pakistan and India cancelled

Airlines including Qatar Airways, Emirates, and Etihad, have cancelled flights to Pakistan and some parts of India amid heightened tensions between the two nuclear-armed neighbours.

Read the full report here.

Alex Macheras

@AlexInAir

Update: Very busy skies here in the Gulf today — flights that would ordinarily overfly are re-routing, especially those originating from Thailand.

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EU Foreign Affairs Representative urges calm

Federica Mogherini has urged the “utmost restraint” amid tensions between New Delhi and Islamabad.

India condemns ‘vulgar’ display of prisoner

Indian media outlet NDTV says government officials in New Delhi have condemned Pakistan’s publication of video and images showing a captured Indian pilot.

“India also strongly objects to Pakistan’s vulgar display of an injured personnel of the Indian Air Force in violation of all norms of International Humanitarian Law and the Geneva Convention,” the Indian government says in a statement.

The comments come as Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi meets military officers to discuss the capture of the pilot.

Pakistani PM Imran Khan urges talks to calm situation

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan has urged his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi to negotiate an end to the current crisis.

In a televised address, he said: “History tells us that wars are full of miscalculation. My question is that given the weapons we have can we afford miscalculation.”

Read our full report here.

Pakistani military now says it has one Indian pilot

Pakistan Armed Forces spokesman Major General Asif Ghafoor, has said the Pakistani army holds just one Indian pilot.

In an earlier comment, the military said it had two members of the Indian armed forces in custody. India says it has one pilot unaccounted for.

Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor

@OfficialDGISPR

There is only one pilot under Pakistan Army’s custody. Wing Comd Abhi Nandan is being treated as per norms of military ethics. pic.twitter.com/8IQ5BPhLj2

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UK “deeply concerned” about rising tension

UK Prime Minister Theresa May urged India and Pakistan to show restraint.

“The UK is deeply concerned about rising tensions between India and Pakistan and urgently calls for restraint on both sides to avoid further escalation,” May told Parliament.

“We are in regular contact with both countries, urging dialogue and diplomatic solutions to ensure regional stability.

“We are working closely with international partners including through the UN Security Council to deescalate tensions,” May says.

Emirates cancels flights to Pakistan

Dubai-based Emirates airline cancelled all flights to Pakistan and Afghanistan due to the closure of Pakistan’s airspace.

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#SayNoToWar: Calls for peace amid India-Pakistan tensions

The news followed a similar decision by Bahrain’s national carrier, which suspended all flights to Pakistan earlier on Wednesday.

Turkey calls for calm between India and Pakistan

Turkey‘s foreign minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu voiced concern over the increasing tension between India and Pakistan.

“We are concerned over this tension. We want to call for common sense and calm between the parties. Steps that will escalate the tension should be avoided,” Cavusoglu said.

He pointed to the dispute over Kashmir as the source of the tension, telling reporters in the Turkish capital, Ankara, that it must be solved as soon as possible within the framework of international law.

Imran Khan urges “wisdom”, offers dialogue

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan said his country is ready for dialogue with India and urged the need for “better sense to prevail”.

“I am addressing India. It is very important that we use wisdom,” Khan said in a televised address, emphasising that several countries have ended up at war in the past due to a lack of dialogue.

He stressed the need for the two nuclear-armed countries to remain cool-headed and to cooperate on security in the disputed Kashmir, saying “we will go and fight with you against terrorism”.

India says it shot down one Pakistani fighter jet and lost one of its own

India said it shot down one Pakistani fighter jet and lost one of its own to Pakistan.

Pakistan claimed to have shot down two Indian warplanes.

India’s Foreign Ministry admits one pilot is missing

India’s Foreign Ministry said one of their pilots is missing after Pakistan claimed to have captured two Indian pilots.

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Pakistan shoots down two Indian fighter jets: Military

Ravish Kumar, the ministry spokesperson, also stressed need to “ascertain the facts” amid competing narratives with Pakistan.

“In this engagement, we have unfortunately lost one MiG 21. The pilot is missing in action. Pakistan has claimed he is in their custody. We are ascertaining the facts,” Kumar said.

Bahrain’s Gulf Air suspends all flights to and from Pakistan

Bahrain’s national carrier Gulf Air has suspended all flights to and from Pakistan with immediate effect due to the closure of Pakistani airspace, according to a statement from the company.

“On February 27, flights to/from Lahore, Multan and Islamabad are cancelled and all passengers will be transferred to next available flights when the airspace is open again,” the statement said.

India’s former ambassador to the US warns Pakistan

Retired diplomat Lalit Mansingh said a new red line with Pakistan has been drawn, adding that India’s policy of strategic restraint “is no longer”, according to the AP news agency.

India, Pakistan suspend flights, partially close airspaces

India and Pakistan confirmed the partial closure of their airspaces and suspension of commercial flights from several airports.

Pakistan indefinitely closed at least three airports in cities located near the Indian border, military spokesman Asif Ghafoor told reporters.

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Pakistan bans Bollywood films amid India tensions

All international and domestic flights from major airports, including Karachi, Peshawar and Lahore, were also suspended for an indefinite period.

Meanwhile, India suspended flights from airports in the disputed region of Kashmir and the state of Punjab until further notice, officials said.

Pakistan does ‘not want to go towards war’: Military spokesman

Pakistan’s military spokesman said the country does “not want to go towards war” with India.

“We do not want escalation, we do not want to go towards war,” Major General Asif Ghafoor told 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 the hospital, he said.

Pakistan claims it has captured two Indian pilots

Pakistan’s military said two Indian pilots were captured after their planes were shot down over Pakistani airspace. India denied 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 said that airports in Indian-administered Kashmir have been closed to civilian traffic shortly after an Indian air force jet crashed in the area.

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‘India playing with fire’: Pakistan-administered Kashmir leader

The Press Trust of India news agency said the airports are in Srinagar, Jammu and Leh. Indian authorities declined to comment.

There were reports that several airports in Pakistan also closed, but Pakistan’s civil aviation authority said it cannot confirm that at this time. However, the website for the international airport in Lahore appeared to show a suspension of flights departing the city.

China reiterates call for restraint

Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang calls for ‘lasting peace’ [File: Jason Lee/Reuters]

China’s Foreign Ministry reiterated 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 said.

Pakistani warplanes enter Indian airspace, forced back: Indian official

Indian air force jets intercepted at least three Pakistani warplanes that crossed into Indian-administered Kashmir on Wednesday and forced them to turn tail, an Indian official says, amid heightened tensions following an Indian air attack that targeted a rebel camp inside Pakistan a day earlier.

The Pakistani jets intruded over the Bimber Gali-Naushera 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, said.

The main airport in Srinagar, the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir state, has been shut down for three hours, police in the city said.

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 JeM, the group that claimed the February 14 Kashmir bombing.

“The limited objective of that pre-emptive strike was to act decisively against the terrorist infrastructure of Jaish-e-Muhammad in order to pre-empt another terror attack in India,” Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj says during talks in Beijing with her counterparts from China and Russia.

“India does not wish to see further escalation of this situation. India will continue to act with responsibility and restraint.”

SOURCE: aljazeera.com

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