Six Air Force officers and a civilian were killed after an Indian Air Force (IAF) chopper crashed in Jammu and Kashmir’s Budgam on Wednesday morning, a senior police officer said.
The crash took place in the backdrop of heavy shelling and firing from across the border on a day IAF fighter jets crossed the Line of Control and destroyed a vast terror camp within Pakistan in a pre-dawn strike on Tuesday.
Hours after the crash, India said an Air Force pilot is “missing in action” after an Indian Air Force aircraft shot down a Pakistani jet that was targeting installations in India. The statement from the foreign ministry came after Pakistan claimed “strikes across Line of Control from within Pakistani airspace”. Pakistan has claimed that the MiG 21 pilot is in their custody.
A Pakistani F-16 aircraft crashed on its territory, in the Lam Valley area along the Line of Control. “The Pakistani aircraft was seen by ground forces falling from the sky on the Pakistan side,” the Foreign Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said.
Airports in Amritsar, Jammu, Srinagar and Leh – close to the border with Pakistan – were shut temporarily. All airspace at Jammu, Srinagar and Leh, close to the border with Pakistan, were shut down today, sources say. The order on shutdown of airports has been withdrawn.
Visuals showed the wrecked fuselage of the IAF chopper in flames and a large number of villagers standing around it.
The helicopter, a Russian made Mi-17, crashed in an open field near Garend Kalaan village in Budgam at 10.05 am.
The Mi-17 chopper broke into two and caught fire immediately, the officials said.
The area has been on high alert amid warnings of retaliation after the air strikes by India yesterday.