India shot down a Pakistani war plane and lost its own MiG-21 fighter, with the pilot missing in action, New Delhi said. Pakistan earlier claimed it had successfully taken out two Indian aircraft amid a spiraling border crisis.
In an “aerial engagement a Pakistan Air Force fighter aircraft was shot down by a MiG 21 Bison of the Indian Air Force” and fell on the Pakistani territory, the spokesperson for the Ministry of External Affairs, Raveesh Kumar, told reporters on Wednesday.
India took a beating too, he announced, having lost “one MiG 21” in the encounter. The pilot is still considered “missing in action.”
Kumar stated that Islamabad used its jets to “target military installations on the Indian side” but “due to our high state of readiness and alertness Pakistan’s attempts were foiled successfully.”
The Pakistani military earlier claimed to have shot down two Indian aircraft over its airspace and captured two pilots. Radio Pakistan showed footage of what appeared to be an arrested pilot in custody. Indian officials are “assessing” this fact, Kumar said.
Islamabad for its part denied losing any of its aircraft as reports suggested that a Pakistani F-16 had been downed by the Indian Air Force.
Meanwhile, an Indian military Mi-17 helicopter also crashed in the Indian-controlled part of Kashmir on the same day. However, it is not clear whether the incident was connected to the altercation with Pakistani jets.
Tensions between the neighboring nuclear-armed nations boiled over when India launched an air-raid on a Pakistani-controlled area of Kashmir. Indian fighter jets were said to have targeted terrorist camps in the disputed territory, marking the first cross-border aerial attack since the Indo-Pakistani War in 1971.
There is some dispute about what actually happened during the strike: while New Delhi says the attacks hit their mark, Islamabad claims the warplanes were quickly forced to retreat and fired wide of their targets.
India justified the assault saying that Islamabad’s failure to crack down on terrorists responsible for a deadly car-bombing earlier in the month had forced their hand. Islamabad vehemently rejected the accusation and vowed to retaliate.
Wednesday’s competing claims over the results of air combat coincided with cross-border shelling along the Kashmir border. Islamabad claims the shelling killed four Pakistani civilians, while New Delhi reported that five Indian soldiers had been injured.