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Pakistan retracts earlier claim, says one IAF pilot in custody, instead of two

Pakistan's chief military spokesman General Asif Ghafoor took to Twitter to announce that "there is only one pilot under Pakistan Army's custody". 

Pakistan retracts earlier claim, says one IAF pilot in custody, instead of two
File photo

New Delhi: Hours after claiming to have captured two of Indian Air Force pilots, the Pakistan government on Wednesday went back on its claims and said that only one AIF pilot was in their custody, instead of two. 

Pakistan's chief military spokesman General Asif Ghafoor took to Twitter to announce that "there is only one pilot under Pakistan Army's custody". 

"An IAF pilot is "missing in action" and a Pakistani fighter jet has been shot down," External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said today in a brief press statement saying details are being ascertained about Pakistan's claim of having captured one Indian pilot.

The statement follows fresh confrontation a day after Indian Air Force launched a counter-terrorism action against a training camp of Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) in Pakistan based on credible evidence that JeM intended to launch more attacks. 

"Against this Counter Terrorism Action, Pakistan has responded this morning by using its Air Force to target military installations on the Indian side. Due to our high state of readiness and alertness, Pakistan's attempts were foiled successfully," Raveesh said.

He added the Pakistan Air Force was detected and the Indian Air Force responded instantly. 

"In that aerial engagement, one Pakistan Air Force fighter aircraft was shot down by a MiG 21 Bison of the Indian Air Force. The Pakistani aircraft was seen by ground forces falling from the sky on the Pakistan side. 

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

As tension mounted between the two nations, the entire airspace north of New Delhi was briefly vacated. At least nine airports in Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Punjab were closed for civilian traffic for some part of the morning but opened later in the day.

Jammu and Kashmir was the centre of much of the action on a day of escalating tensions between the two neighbours.

An IAF helicopter crashed in Budgam in Kashmir, killing at least five people. One of the deceased persons was identified as Kifayat Hussain Ganaie, a local resident, while the identity of other four -- believed to be IAF personnel -- is being ascertained, they said.

In the meantime, heavy firing and shelling on forward and civilian areas from across the LoC in Rajouri, Poonch and later in Uri was also reported later in the day, with the Indian Army being put on the highest degree of alertness.