Pakistan scrambles jets over India violation

File photo of an Indian soldier looks towards the site of a gunbattle between troops and rebels inside an army brigade headquarters near the Line of Control (LoC)Image copyright
AFP

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Nuclear neighbours India and Pakistan have a history of conflict and diplomatic tensions

Pakistan’s military has accused India’s air force of violating its airspace, and says it scrambled jets in response.

Military spokesman Major General Asif Ghafoor tweeted: “Indian Air Force violated Line of Control. Pakistan Air Force immediately scrambled. Indian aircrafts gone back. Details to follow.”

He added that Indian aircraft “released [a] payload in haste… near Balakot”.

Reuters reports a defence official said it had “no information” on the claim.

The Pakistani spokesman said there were no casualties or damage. Balakot is in Pakistani territory.

If confirmed, this is believed to be the first time India’s Air Force has crossed into Pakistan since 1971.

It follows a suicide bombing attack on an Indian security convoy in Pulwama, in Indian-administered Kashmir, on 14 February. The attack was claimed by a Pakistan-based militant group, Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), and prompted a spike in tensions between nuclear-armed India and Pakistan.

Both nations claim all of Muslim-majority Kashmir, but control only parts of it. India and Pakistan have fought three wars and a limited conflict since independence from Britain in 1947 – and all but one were over Kashmir.

The bombing earlier in February was the deadliest attack on Indian forces in the region for decades. Pakistan denied it was involved, while India said its neighbour had a “direct hand” in the attack and accused it of providing sanctuary to the militant group.

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan on Sunday said his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi should “give peace a chance”. He added that if India provides “actionable intelligence” regarding the Pulwama attack that proves Pakistan was involved, “we will immediately act”.

On Saturday, Mr Modi had called on Mr Khan to join India in fighting poverty and illiteracy, instead of the pair fighting each other.

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