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IAF Air Strikes, Day 2: How India-Pakistan Tensions Escalated

A day after the IAF carried out air strikes across the LoC, both India & Pakistan claimed an aerial engagement.

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A day after the Indian Air Force carried out air strikes across the Line of Control (LoC), both India and Pakistan claimed an aerial engagement between their respective air forces. This took place after Pakistan aircraft fired at targets in Indian territory. Here's what happened.

Midnight LoC Shelling

The Indian Army destroys five Pakistani posts along the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir on Tuesday, 26 February night in retaliation to firing from across the border, says Indian Defence PRO.

IAF Air Strikes, Day 2: How India-Pakistan Tensions Escalated
(Photo: Aroop Mishra/The Quint)
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Leading Pakistan newspaper, Dawn, reports 4 civilians have died and 11 have been wounded in Pak-occupied-Kashmir (PoK) in Indian shelling across LoC.

IAF Air Strikes, Day 2: How India-Pakistan Tensions Escalated
(Photo: Aroop Mishra/The Quint)

09:43 am: Pakistan Jets Violate Indian Airspace

Indian news agency PTI reports that Pakistani jets violate Indian airspace and enter border areas of Nowshera sector in J&K's Rajouri district.

IAF Air Strikes, Day 2: How India-Pakistan Tensions Escalated
(Photo: Aroop Mishra/The Quint)
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09:57 am: A Helicopter Crash in Budgam, J&K

An IAF helicopter crash is reported in Jammu & Kashmir's Budgam's district. Later in the day, seven people were reported to die in the crash, civilians as well as soldiers.

IAF Air Strikes, Day 2: How India-Pakistan Tensions Escalated
(Photo: Aroop Mishra/The Quint)

10.49 am: High-Level Meeting in North Block

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh holds a high-level meeting at North block, according to an ANI report. NSA Ajit Doval, RAW Chief, Home Secretary and other officials are present at the meeting.

IAF Air Strikes, Day 2: How India-Pakistan Tensions Escalated
(Photo: Aroop Mishra/The Quint)
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11.49 am: A Tweet From Pak Army

Pakistan Armed Forces Spokesman Major General Asif Ghafoor claims on Twitter that the PAF shot down two Indian aircraft from within Pakistan airspace.

IAF Air Strikes, Day 2: How India-Pakistan Tensions Escalated
(Photo: Aroop Mishra/The Quint)

12.21 pm: Pak FM Says “Self-Defence”

Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi confirms that Pakistan undertook strikes across the Line of Control (LoC), but within Pakistani airspace, reports The Quint. In an official statement, he says, “Sole purpose is to demonstrate our right, will and capability for self-defence".

IAF Air Strikes, Day 2: How India-Pakistan Tensions Escalated
(Photo: Aroop Mishra/The Quint)
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12.41 pm: Indian Airspace Shut Down for Civilians

Citing officials, PTI reports that the entire airspace north of Delhi has been shut down for civilian use.

1.11 pm: Reports of Missing IAF Pilot

Quoting sources, ANI reports that IAF pilot Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman who took off in a MiG 21 Bison jet earlier in the day, is yet to return.

IAF Air Strikes, Day 2: How India-Pakistan Tensions Escalated
(Photo: Aroop Mishra/The Quint)
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1.13 pm: Pak Stops Domestic & International Flight Ops

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

IAF Air Strikes, Day 2: How India-Pakistan Tensions Escalated
(Photo: Aroop Mishra/The Quint)

1.15 pm: Pak Army Addresses Briefing

Pakistan Armed Forces Spokesperson Major General Asif Ghafoor addresses the press and says, "Pakistan had no choice but to retaliate after India violated our airspace yesterday. We wanted to send a signal of what our capability is." He claims that Pakistan has captured two Indian pilots. This is later contested by India, who claims that only one IAF pilot is missing.

IAF Air Strikes, Day 2: How India-Pakistan Tensions Escalated
(Photo: Aroop Mishra/The Quint)
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1.21 pm: Civil Flight Ops In India Resume

NOTAM (Notice to Airmen to alert aircraft pilots of potential hazards along a flight route) is being withdrawn. Civil flight operations resume, reports ANI.

IAF Air Strikes, Day 2: How India-Pakistan Tensions Escalated
(Photo: Aroop Mishra/The Quint)

03.15 pm: Indian MEA & IAF Address Press

Raveesh Kumar, Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson and Air Vice Marshal RGK Kapoor jointly address the press. Here's what he says:

i.  Pakistan has responded this morning by using its Air Force to target military installations on the Indian side.

ii. In the aerial 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.

At around 6.30 pm in the evening, Ministry of External Affairs releases a statement that the IAF pilot is indeed in Pakistan's custody and the Ministry expects his immediate and safe return.

While videos are available on social media, The Quint will not show any video of the IAF pilot in Pakistan custody. Pakistan's treatment of the pilot and publication of any videos of him is likely a violation of Geneva Convention III on Treatment of Prisoners of War.

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03.48 pm: PM Imran Khan Invites India For Dialogue

PM Imran Khan addresses Pakistan and says, "If the situation escalates from here, things might spin out of control. Better sense should prevail. We are inviting India for dialogue." He further ascertains that the country shot down two Indian fighter jets, and that two Indian pilots are in Pakistan's custody.

IAF Air Strikes, Day 2: How India-Pakistan Tensions Escalated
(Photo: Aroop Mishra/The Quint)

05.31 pm: Oppn Expresses Concern Over Missing IAF Pilot

On behalf of 21 Opposition parties, Congress President Rahul Gandhi expresses concern over the safety of the missing IAF pilot, and urges the government to protect India's sovereignty and unity.

IAF Air Strikes, Day 2: How India-Pakistan Tensions Escalated
(Photo: Aroop Mishra/The Quint)
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06.47 pm: IAF Issues Statement on Helicopter Crash

Indian Air Force issues a statement on the Mi17 V5 helicopter crash in Budgam. The statement says, "Today, one Mi-17 V5 helicopter got airborne from Srinagar airfield at 1000 hrs for a routine mission. It crashed around 1010 hrs near Budgam, J&K. All six air warriors on board the helicopter, suffered fatal injuries. A court of inquiry has been ordered to investigate the accident.

IAF Air Strikes, Day 2: How India-Pakistan Tensions Escalated
(Photo: Aroop Mishra/The Quint)

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