The Latest: Pakistan holds 2 Indian pilots from downed plane

ISLAMABAD (AP) — The Latest on escalating India-Pakistan tensions (all times local):

2:40 p.m.
China is renewing calls for Pakistan and India to take steps to avoid a further deterioration of ties following the latest flare-up over Kashmir.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang told reporters at a daily briefing on Wednesday that “both Pakistan and India are important countries in the subcontinent of South Asia.”

He added that China hopes “they will keep in mind the regional peace and stability, exercise restraint, take effective measures to strengthen dialogue, and maintain two sides’ fundamental interests and the regional peace and stability.”

Lu also said: “We hope they will avoid deterioration of the situation.”
China is longstanding close ally and arms supplier to Pakistan, but has also sought better ties with its southern neighbor and Asian rival India.


2:10 p.m.
India’s former ambassador to the United States says that a new red line with Pakistan has been drawn.

The remarks came hours after Pakistan said its air force shot down two Indian warplanes after they crossed the boundary in the disputed region of Kashmir and captured two Indian pilots.

Retired diplomat Lalit Mansingh said on Wednesday that India’s policy of strategic restraint “is no longer.”

Mansingh says a new doctrine was established by India’s pre-dawn airstrikes on Tuesday in Pakistani territory that Indian officials said targeted terrorist infrastructure.

The strikes were the deepest inside Pakistani territory since the neighboring countries last went to war over Kashmir in 1971.

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi said afterward that the attacks paid homage to “India’s brave hearts” — an apparent reference to 40 Indian soldiers killed in a Feb. 14 suicide bombing in India-controlled Kashmir.


1:45 p.m.
Pakistan’s Civil Aviation Authority says it has shut its airspace to all commercial flights as tensions with neighboring India escalate further over the disputed region of Kashmir.

The agency says in a statement that the airspace was closed on Wednesday, without elaborating or indicating when flights might resume.

This came shortly after Pakistan said its air force shot down two Indian warplanes after they crossed the boundary between the two nuclear-armed rivals in the disputed territory of Kashmir, and captured two Indian pilots.

The latest wave of tensions erupted after a pre-dawn strike by Indian aircraft Tuesday on Pakistani territory.


1:10 p.m.
Pakistan’s military says it has two Indian pilots now in custody, captured after the Pakistani air force shot down their aircraft on its side of the disputed region of Kashmir.

The military’s spokesman, Maj. Gen. Asif Ghafoor, says one of the pilots is injured and is being treated in a military hospital. He did not elaborate on the pilot’s injuries. Ghafoor says the other pilot is in custody.

The military says the Indian Air Force plane was downed on the Pakistani side of the Line of Control in Kashmir — a boundary separating the disputed Himalayan region between the nuclear armed neighbors.

Ghafoor says the Indian pilots “are being treated well.” He made no mention of whether they would be returned to India.

Tensions remain high on the Asian Subcontinent where tens of thousands of Indian and Pakistani soldiers face off along the Kashmir boundary.


12:30 a.m.
Indian news reports say that airports in the Indian portion of Kashmir have been closed for civilian traffic shortly after an Indian air force jet crashed in the area.

The Press Trust of India news agency says these airports are located at Srinagar, Jammu and Leh. Indian authorities declined to comment.

Pakistan said its air force shot down two Indian warplanes after they crossed the boundary between the two nuclear-armed rivals in the disputed territory of Kashmir, and that one Indian pilot was captured on Wednesday.

New Delhi has not commented on Pakistan’s claim.
The closure of airports in Indian-controlled Kashmir came amid escalation of tensions between nuclear rivals India and Pakistan following a pre-dawn airstrike by India on Tuesday that New Delhi said targeted a terrorist training camp in northwest Pakistan.
Pakistan says Indian warplanes dropped bombs near the town of Balakot but that there were no casualties.


12:10 p.m.
Pakistan’s foreign ministry says the country’s Air Force is carrying out airstrikes from within Pakistani airspace across the disputed Kashmir boundary but that this was not in “retaliation to continued Indian belligerence”.

The ministry said the strikes on Wednesday are aimed at “avoiding human loss and collateral damage.”

The statement came shortly after the Pakistani military shot down two Indian airplanes after they crossed the Kashmir border and captured one of the pilots.

It says the Pakistanis have “no intention of escalation, but are fully prepared to do so if forced into that paradigm. That is why we undertook the action with clear warning and in broad daylight.”

Meanwhile, civil administrator Baseer Khan confirmed that the airport in Srinagar, the main city in Indian-controlled Kashmir, was closed and said it was a “temporary and precautionary measure.”


11:35 a.m.
Pakistan’s army spokesman says the country’s air force shot down two Indian warplanes after they crossed the boundary between the two nuclear-armed rivals in the disputed territory of Kashmir, and that one Indian pilot was captured.

Maj. Gen. Asif Ghafoor says Pakistani troops on ground captured the Indian pilot. He says one of the planes crashed in Pakistan’s part of Kashmir and the other went down in Indian-controlled Kashmir.

He says that “one Indian pilot was arrested by troops on ground while two are in the area” on Wednesday.

Indian air force spokesman Anupam Banerjee in New Delhi said he has no information on Pakistan’s statement.

Earlier, senior Indian police officer Munir Ahmed Khan said an Indian Air Force plane crashed in Indian-controlled sector of Kashmir. It wasn’t immediately known if there were casualties.

Another police officer, S.P. Pani, said firefighters were at the site in Budgam area where the warplane crashed. Eyewitnesses said soldiers fired in air to keep residents away from the crash site.


10:40 a.m.
India says it does not wish to see a further escalation of the situation with Pakistan and will continue to act with responsibility and restraint.

This shortly after Pakistani police said mortar shells fired by Indian troops from across the frontier in the Himalayan region of Kashmir killed six civilians on Wednesday.

India’s External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj says the limited objective of Tuesday’s pre-emptive strike inside Pakistan was to act decisively against the terrorist Jaish-e-Mohammad group to prevent another attack in India.

Swaraj spoke at the 16th Meeting of the foreign ministers of Russia, India and China in Wuzhen, China.

Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad group claimed responsibility for a suicide attack on a convoy of India’s paramilitary forces in the Indian portion of Kashmir on Feb. 14 that killed 40 troops.

Pakistan said there were no casualties in India’s airstrike near the town of Balakot on Tuesday.


9:55 a.m.
Pakistani police say mortar shells fired by Indian troops from across the frontier in the Himalayan region of Kashmir struck homes, killing six civilians and wounding several others amid increasing tensions between the two South Asian nuclear rivals.

Local police official Mohammad Altaf says six people, including children, were killed Wednesday in Kotli village in Pakistan’s part of Kashmir, which is split between Pakistan and India and claimed by both in its entirety.

Pakistani and Indian troops deployed in Kashmir often trade fire.
The latest civilian casualties came a day after tensions escalated sharply following a pre-dawn airstrike by India that New Delhi said targeted a terrorist training camp in northwest Pakistan.

Pakistan says Indian warplanes dropped bombs near the town of Balakot but there were no casualties.

By Associated Press