Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman
This photograph released by Pakistan's Inter Services Public Relations shows captured Indian pilot Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman. Image Credit: AFP

India-Pakistan conflict continues following IAF attacks on camps across Kashmir border. Cross-border attacks escalate; India military jet crashes, Pakistani jets violate Indian airspace and drop bombs according to reports. We bring you live updates.

3.42 am

Pakistan says US stance has 'emboldened' India

Pakistan's ambassador to Washington voiced regret Wednesday that the United States has not condemned India's air incursion, saying the stance "emboldened" New Delhi.

With the nuclear-armed rivals shooting down each other's warplanes in their worst crisis in years, Pakistani Ambassador Asad Majeed Khan said the United States should have pinned blame on India.

"It is construed and understood as an endorsement of the Indian position and that is what emboldened them even more," Khan told reporters when asked about the US statement.

But Khan said that Pakistan - which has an increasingly close relationship with China and rising friction with Washington - was eager for greater US diplomacy between Islamabad and New Delhi.

"There is perhaps no other country better placed than the United States to be able to play some role," he said, pointing to the US relationship with both countries.

8.59 pm

PM Narendra Modi reviews conflict scenario with top officials

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday evening met Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and the three Services chiefs after the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) jets intruded into the Indian territory across the Line of Control (LoC) and downed one Indian Air Force (IAF) fighter jet, capturing its pilot.

The Prime Minister learnt to have discussed the evolving situation at the meeting, also attended by National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval.

The PAF fighter aircraft made a shallow incursion across the LoC (maximum of 6-7 km deep, as per sources) on Wednesday morning and aimed at military installations. The exact number of planes in the Pakistani pack could not be ascertained.

6.15 pm

India asks Pakistan to immediately return IAF pilot, ensure his safety

India on Wednesday summoned the acting high commissioner of Pakistan and demanded immediate and safe return of an IAF pilot who was detained by Pakistan, following an aerial engagement by air forces of the two countries.

It has also been made clear to Pakistan that no harm should be caused to the Indian defence personnel, the External Affairs Ministry said, adding it has conveyed strong objection to the neighbouring country at the "vulgar display" of an injured personnel in violation of all norms of International Humanitarian Law and the Geneva Convention.

Pakistani soldiers stand next to what Pakistan says
Pakistani soldiers stand next to what Pakistan says is the wreckage of an Indian fighter jet shot down in Pakistan controled Kashmir at Somani area in Bhimbar district near the Line of Control on February 27, 2019. Image Credit: AFP

Pakistan detained Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman following a engagement between air forces of the two sides along the Line of Control in which a Pakistani jet was downed. IAF also lost a MiG 21 jet in the engagement.

"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 MEA said.

The Pakistani Acting High Commissioner was summoned this afternoon by the MEA to lodge a strong protest at the unprovoked act of aggression by Pakistan against India, including by violation of the Indian air space and targeting of Indian military posts.

Gloom and anguish

The parents of Wing Commander Varthaman Abhinandan were engulfed by gloom after coming to know that their son had been taken into custody in Pakistan.

When IANS news agency contacted his father, retired Air Marshal Simhakutty Varthaman, over telephone, he declined to speak. The distressed family lives in Chennai's outskirts.

Like his father, Abhinandan chose the Indian Air Force (IAF) and was commissioned into service in 2004.

His father was once the Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Eastern Air Command.

Pakistani soldiers stand
Pakistani soldiers stand next to what Pakistan says is the wreckage of an Indian fighter jet shot down in Pakistan controled Kashmir at Somani area in Bhimbar district near the Line of Control on February 27, 2019. Image Credit: AFP

Simhakutty Varthaman had shared his knowledge about the air force to film director Mani Ratnam for his Tamil movie "Kaatru Veliyidai" where the hero, an air force pilot, is captured by the Pakistan Army.

A person known to Simhakutty Varthaman told IANS: "I know the senior Varthaman. He is a nice person. I have not met Abhinandan. I know he is married."

5.40 pm

Punjab CM reviews situation

According to ANI reports, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh met top officials of army, paramilitary and the police to review the current situation in border areas of India.

4.15 pm

Pakistan Air Force targeted India's military installations; one Indian pilot missing

Accusing Pakistan Air Force of targeting Indian military installations, India on Wednesday said the attack was foiled successfully but one MIG fighter jet was shot down in the aerial confrontation and a pilot is "missing in action".

In a very brief press statement, External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar, accompanied by Air Vice Marshal R G K Kapoor, said details are also being ascertained about Pakistan's claim of having captured one Indian pilot.

The fresh confrontation came 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 the UN-proscribed terror group intended to launch terror attacks.

Pakistan responded

The JeM had taken the responsibility of the terror strike in Kashmir's Pulwama district on February 14, in which 40 CRPF personnel were killed.

Against the Indian counter-terrorism action, "Pakistan has responded this morning (Wednesday) 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," Kumar said.

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

Jet downed

"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.

India's Border Security Force
India's Border Security Force (BSF) soldiers patrol along the fenced border with Pakistan in Ranbir Singh Pura sector near Jammu. Image Credit: REUTERS

Both officials did not take any questions from the media.

Soon after the Indian statement, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan did a live TV address and favoured talks to resolve the issues between the two nuclear-armed neighbours.

He, however, claimed that two Indian MIGs crossed the Line of Control and they were shot down.

'We can do the same'

"Our action was only intended to convey that if you can come into our country, we can do the same. Two of their MiGs were shot down (in the ensuing action)," Khan said.

Noting that all wars are miscalculated, and no one knows where they lead to, Khan said that better sense must prevail and the two sides should act with wisdom.

Pakistani soldiers patrol 4
Pakistani soldiers patrol in the area where Indian planes were reportedly shot down by Pakistani forces, in Jaba, near Balakot, Pakistan, Wednesday, February 27, 2019. Image Credit: AP

"I ask India: with the weapons you have and the weapons we have, can we really afford a miscalculation? If this (situation) escalates, it will no longer be in my control or in (Prime Minister) Narendra Modi's," Khan said.

Call for peace

"Let's sit together and settle this with talks," he added.

Before the MEA briefing, the Pakistan Army had released a 46-second video showing a blindfolded man claiming that he is IAF's Wing Commander Abhinandan.

"I am an IAF officer. My service No is 27981," the man is seen as saying in the video.

However, the veracity of the video could not be ascertained.

The heightened tension also saw Pakistan shutting down its entire airspace and India closing down civilian air traffic in most of its northern region temporarily.

3.06 pm

Emirates flights to/from Pakistan, Afghanistan cancelled

An Emirates Spokesperson said: “Due to the closure of Pakistani and Afghanistan airspace, a number of Emirates flights to/from Pakistan and Afghanistan on 27 and 28 February have been cancelled. The latest flight schedules can be found on Affected passengers are requested to contact their booking agent or Emirates reservations to rebook their flights or make alternative travel arrangements.

"We are sorry for any inconvenience caused to our customers. The safety of our passengers and crew is of the utmost importance and will not be compromised. We continue to monitor the situation closely, and will update our customers as the situation develops.”

Travel advisory: UAE airlines cancel flights to Pakistan

3.01 pm

Update from Dubai, Sharjah airports

A Dubai Airports spokesperson said: “Dubai Airports confirms flights to and from Pakistan have been impacted until further notice due to the closure of Pakistani airspace. Dubai Airports is working closely with airlines, control authorities and air traffic controllers to minimise operational impact and customer inconvenience. Dubai Airports will continue to closely monitor the situation. Passengers on affected flights are advised to check with their respective airlines for updates.”

From Sharjah, 5 incoming flights and eight outgoing flights have ben cancelled.

2.40 pm

It is imperative that we act with wisdom, says Pakistani Prime Minister

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has once again offered India to hold dialogue instead of escalation of tension.

“I will say it again to you (India) that better sense should prevail and we should talk,” Imran said in his address to the nation broadcast on national television channels on Wednesday (February 27) after Pakistan Air Force (PAF) jets shot down two Indian Air Force jets in Pakistan territory.

"I wanted to take the nation into confidence over the developments since yesterday morning," Imran said.

"We offered peace to India after what happened in Pulwama. I understand the pain of the families [who lost family members in Pulwama]. I have visited hospitals and seen the pain of people affected by violence.

"We offered India that we would investigate. We wanted to cooperate and were ready to do so. I feared that India would still take action, and I had therefore warned India against aggression."

Imran says in short address: "Our action was only intended to convey that if you can come in to our country, we can do the same. Two of their MiGs were shot down. Now, it is imperative that we act with wisdom and sense to resolve dispute.”

2.15 pm

Flights from Abu Dhabi and Al Ain to Pakistan suspended

Flights to Pakistan from Abu Dhabi and Al Ain were temporarily suspended on Wednesday until further notice, according to Abu Dhabi Airport.

In a statement, Abu Dhabi Airport said the cancellation of all flights occurred due to the closure of Pakistan’s airspace and airport.

“Due to airspace and airport closures in Pakistan, all flights from Abu Dhabi International Airport and Al Ain International Airport, on all operating airlines to Pakistan, are on hold until further notice. Passengers are advised to contact their respective airlines for flight updates. The safety and security of travellers is our number one priority and staff across Abu Dhabi Airports are actively working to support affected guests. Further updates will be made available in due course”.

2.01 pm

Several flights from Dubai to Pakistan suspended

Travellers flying out of the UAE to Pakistan have been advised to continue monitoring the status of their flights in view of the escalating conflict between the two countries.

UAE-based carrier flydubai have just dropped Wednesday’s flights from Dubai to Faisalabad, Multan, Sialkot and Karachi in Pakistan, according to the airline’s flight tracker.

Passengers check out the cancelled flights
Passengers check out the cancelled flights information at Dubai airport. Image Credit: Atiq Ur Rehman/Gulf News

Emirates airline also cancelled flights to Islamabad, Karachi and Lahore, according to its website.

But flyers were told to continue monitoring the situation and check any possible flight changes.

“Following the closure of the airspace in Pakistan flydubai has advised passengers to check the flight status on flydubai is reviewing its schedule and further updates will be provided,” flydubai said in a statement to Gulf News.

1.51 pm

Indian airports reopen

Indian aviation watchdog DGCA on Wednesday said operations at the nine airports, which were shut earlier in the day, have resumed "as of now".

A spokesperson of the Directorate General of Civil Aviation said: "As of now, ops to these airports resumed (sic)."

The DGCA Wednesday issued a notice to airmen (NOTAM), saying flight operations at the airports in Srinagar, Jammu, Leh, Pathankot, Amritsar, Shimla, Kangra, Kullu Manali and Pithoragarh will remain shut from February 27 to May 27.

The move to close the airports had come amid escalation of tensions between India and Pakistan after the IAF carried out strikes on terror bases in Pakistan.


India, Pakistan shut airports

India has announced the closure of 9 airports; flights on all of Pakistan's major airports suspended.


Pakistan claims to capture two Indian pilots

Pakistan Army spokesperson Major general Asif Ghafoor told a press conference Wenesday that Pakistan has captured two Indian pilots. One is in custody while the other is under treatment in a hospital.

"Today's action was in self defence; we don't want to claim any victory. The way we set out target and made sure that there were no collateral damage; the in-built message was that despite out capability, we look towards peace," said the army spokesperson.

Residents walk through the closed main market
Residents walk through the closed main market, following the intense exchange of fire between Pakistan and India at the border town of Chakoti at the Line of Control in Pakistani Kashmir, Wednesday, February 27, 2019. Image Credit: AP

"Today morning, Pakistan Air Force engaged with six targets at the LoC. Because we are a responsible state and want peace, we decided that we will not use any military target.

"As a result of engaging our target, no human life was affected. Staying within our jurisdiction, six targets were locked. And we carried out the strike," said the army spokesperson.

"Pakistan is not pushing the environment towards war," he made it clear, adding Pakistan deliberately avoided escalation.

Regarding National Command Authority (NCA) meeting scheduled to be held today and potential use of nuclear weapon, the DG said: "I have always said that we must not talk about this. It is insane to talk about this. It is a capability and a weapon of political choice. Neither is this our level nor is this a topic that should be talked about."


Watch: Pakistan military media briefing


Pakistan shuts services from some airports

Pakistan has also stopped its domestic and international flight operations from Lahore, Multan, Faisalabad, Sialkot and Islamabad airports.


Sole purpose was to demonstrate our right: Pakistan

"Pakistan Air Force undertook strikes across LoC from Pakistani airspace. Sole purpose of this action was to demonstrate our right, will and capability for self defence. We do not wish to escalate but are fully prepared if forced into that paradigm," Mohammad Faisal, Pakistan's MoFA spokesperson has said.


Many Indian airports closed for commercial services

190227 air passengers
Air passengers stranded after Amritsar airport was shut down in the view of the tension along the Pakistan border, in Amritsar. Image Credit: PTI

Several airports including Srinagar, Jammu, Leh, Amritsar and Chandigarh have been closed for civilian operation, airport sources said on Wednesday.

According to informed sources, the airports' facilities are currently being used by the Indian Air Force (IAF).

Consequently, no commercial operation will take place in these airports. Several flights to and from these airports have either been diverted or put on hold.

"Due to airspace restrictions, flights to and from Amritsar, Srinagar, Chandigarh and Jammu are currently on hold. Customers are requested to check flight status before commencing their journey to the airport," Air Vistara tweeted.


Pakistani jet shot down

Pakistan Air Force's F-16 that violated Indian air space shot down in Indian retaliatory fire 3KM within Pakistan territory in Lam valley, Nowshera sector. The pilot has got himself ejected from the plane as it went down.


Pakistani troops shell Indian posts in Uri

Pakistani troops Wednesday intensely shelled Indian posts in Uri Sector of Jammu and Kashmir, officials said.

The shelling comes a day after the IAF carried out air strikes on Jaish-e-Mohammad terror camps inside the neighbouring country.

Pakistani Army fired mortar shells towards Indian posts in the early hours of Wednesday, a police official said.

He said there were no reports of any casualties so far.

The official said the Indian Army retaliated to the Pakistani action in an equal measure.

The exchange of fire across the LoC in Uri sector was going in when reports last came in, he added.


Pakistani aircraft violate Indian airspace

Reports say Pakistani jets have violated Indian airspace and dropped bombs. The jets entered border areas of Nowshera sector in J&K’s Rajouri district, reports said. Pakistan Air Force jets violated Indian airspace in Rajouri sector, dropped bombs near Indian army force. No reports of casualties yet, ANI has tweeted.

"Pakistan Air Force shot down 2 Indian aircraft inside Pak airspace. 1 aircraft fell inside AJ&K, other fell inside IOK. 1 Indian pilot arrested by troops on ground, 2 in area," said Major General A Ghafoor, DG ISPR, Pakistan Army spokesperson


Pakistan claims 2 Indian fighter jets shot down

190227 oplane crash
Image Credit: @ANI/Twitter

An Indian Air Force (IAF) jet crashed on Wednesday in Budgam district of Jammu and Kashmir, killing at least one person, officials said. The Indian fighter jet crashed in an open field near Garend Kalaan village in Budgam at 10.05 am, Indian officials said.

This came after Pakistan claimed that it has shot down two Indian Air Force jets, in a major escalation of the Kashmir conflict, according to the BBC.

A Pakistani army spokesman said one of the planes had fallen inside Pakistan and a pilot had been arrested. There is no immediate confirmation from India, which claimed to have shot down a Pakistani aircraft.

Pakistan earlier said it had hit Indian targets, a day after India struck militants in Pakistan. The raids follow a militant attack in Kashmir which killed 40 Indian troops

The jet broke into two and caught fire immediately, the officials said, adding one body was seen near the site crash. The identity of the deceased could not be confirmed immediately. The Indian military said the fate of the pilots was not known.

The aircraft that crashed in Jammu & Kashmir's Budgam was IAF's Mi-17 transport chopper.


Pakistan warns it will respond to India's aggression

Pakistani Ambassador to UN Maleeha Lodhi has said that as a target of aggression, Pakistan will respond to India at a time and place of its choosing. Lodhi, permanent representative of Pakistan to the UN, held a series of intense meetings with key diplomats and UN officials following Tuesday's violations of the Line of Control (LoC) by Indian war planes that worsened the already dangerous situation between the two countries.

"We will not sit back," she told BBC radio when asked whether Pakistan will respond to India's attack. Ambassador Lodhi said that following the Feb. 14 Pulwama incident, Prime Minister Imran Khan offered investigation if "actionable" evidence was provided but none was forthcoming. PM Khan also proposed discussions and dialogue, but regrettably India responded by launching an attack on Pakistan in violation of UN Charter and international law, posing a threat to international peace and security.

"This is not how countries act when responding to challenges," the Pakistani envoy said. Pakistan, she said, stands for peace and resolving disputes through negotiations, but India would not have it that way. The Pakistani envoy rejected as absolutely untrue the Indian claims that it hit a Jaish-e-Muhammad training camp, and she warned that a dangerous situation is evolving. In this regard, the Pakistani envoy called on the International community to respond because the situation could spin out of control.


India says doesn't want 'further escalation'

WUZHEN, China: India wants to avoid any "further escalation of the situation" after conducting "pre-emptive" air strikes against militant camps in Pakistani territory, foreign minister Sushma Swaraj said on Wednesday.

The incursion across the ceasefire line that divides Kashmir came after New Delhi threatened retaliation over the February 14 suicide bombing that killed 40 Indian troops, and was claimed by the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) group.

Sushma Swaraj 4
Sushma Swaraj Image Credit: PTI

Swaraj stressed during talks in China with her counterparts from Beijing and Moscow that "no military installations were targeted" in the air raid, and the target was selected to avoid civilian casualties.

She said the decision was taken "in the light of the continuing refusal of Pakistan to acknowledge and act against terror groups on its territory, and based on credible information that Jaish-e-Mohammed was planning other attacks in... (India)".

"The limited objective of that pre-emptive strike was to act decisively against the terrorist infrastructure of Jaish-e-Mohammad in order to pre-empt another terror attack in India," Swaraj added.

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

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Pakistan denied India's claim that the attack had inflicted major damage and casualties on militants, calling it "reckless and fictitious" and vowing a response in due course.

The operation is India's first use of air power on Pakistani soil since the two went to war in 1971.


Heavy firing on LoC

Srinagar: Heavy firing started on the Line of Control (LoC) on Wednesday between Indian and Pakistani troops in Jammu and Kashmir's Uri sector, defence sources said.

Both sides were using mortars and small arms to target each other in Kamalkote area since earlier in the day, the defence sources confirmed, adding that the exchanges were continuing.

People living close to the LoC are scared following heightened tension between the two neighbours.

Heavy firing exchanges were also continuing intermittently at 40 places on the LoC, including Poonch, Rajouri and Jammu districts since Tuesday night, hours after Indian Air Force fighter jets dropped a 1,000 kg bomb on a specific terror training pad of the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) in a "non-military, pre-emptive" action.

The move came 12 days after 40 Central Reserve Police Force troopers were killed by a JeM operative in the worst terror strike in Jammu and Kashmir since militancy hit the state in 1989.