Pakistan Says Indian Aircraft Cross Into Disputed Airspace In Kashmir

Pakistan’s military said one or more Indian aircraft crossed into disputed airspace over the region of Kashmir, prompting Pakistan to scramble its own fighter jets in response.

An Indian news agency, meanwhile, reported that Indian air force jets had attacked a “major terrorist camp” in the Pakistani-controlled part of Kashmir early February 26.

There was no confirmation of the reports from Indian government or military officials. However, Rahul Gandhi, a prominent politician who heads the Congress political party, posted a congratulatory message to Twitter, saying “I salute the pilots of the [Indian air force].”

If confirmed that Indian jets crossed into Pakistani-controlled territory, it would be the first time that had happened since 1971, signifying a major escalation between the two nuclear-armed rivals.

The incident comes just 11 days after a suicide attack killed at least 41 soldiers on the Indian side of divided Kashmir. Since then, rhetoric between Islamabad and New Delhi has been steadily escalating.

Since then, rhetoric between Islamabad and New Delhi has been steadily escalating.

In a February 25 post to Twitter, Major General Asif Ghafoor, a Pakistani military spokesman, said Indian aircrafts entered the “Muzafarabad sector,” an area in the Pakistan-administered part of Kashmir.

He said the Indian jets were met with a “timely and effective response from Pakistan Air Force,” and the Indian craft “released payload in haste while escaping which fell near Balakot.”

“No casualties or damage,” he wrote.​

Balakot is about 50 miles from the administrative border known as the “line of control,” which is based on lines established after the first war the two countries fought in 1947.

The Indian news agency ANI, citing unnamed military sources, said that 12 Mirage 2000 fighter jets had attacked a “terrorist camp.”

The February 14 attack, in the Pulwama district, was claimed by Jaish-e-Mohammed, an Islamist extremist group based in Pakistan, although the suicide attacker came locally from Indian Kashmir.

In a letter dated February 22, Pakistan’s foreign minister appealed to the U.N. Security Council to draw attention to Indian threats in the wake of the suicide bombing.

Shah Mahmood Qureshi warned that the security situation in the region is deteriorating as India threatens to use force against Pakistan.

India and Pakistan have fought two of their three full-fledged wars over Kashmir since their partition during independence from Britain in 1947.

Since 1989, rebels have been fighting against Indian control in Kashmir. About 70,000 people have been killed in the uprising and crackdown that followed.