NEW DELHI: Pakistan Air Force (PAF) fighter jets intruded into Indian air space around 10.30 am on Wednesday to strike military targets, Indian sources said, adding that the aircraft were chased away from the Line of Control.
Three F-16s crossed the LoC in the Nowshera area in an operation launched on the Indian Army’s military locations, a senior officer said. “We have a Brigade Head Quarter, Unit Head Quarter and the other administrative building in the area,” the officer pointed out, adding that the Pakistani jets locked on to four Indian military targets.
“Our operation on Tuesday in Balakot was against a non-military target and we have been telling Pakistan through our government to take action and dismantle the terrorist facility,” the officer said, adding that Pakistan’s act was clearly a military aggression.
Pakistan’s head of the ISPR (Inter Services Public Relations) Maj. Gen Asif Ghafoor claimed the jets had locked on to six targets.
The PAF jets dropped bombs at four places, which included one close to the Brigade Headquarters and another near the ammunition point in Nariana, another source said.
IAF fighters, which were already in the air because of the heightened tension, engaged the Pakistani jets, but in the process, an IAF MiG-21 flown by Wing Commander Abinanadan Varthaman reached near the LoC and was shot down by air defence guns of Pakistan. The pilot ejected but landed in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
All this would have happened within a few minutes, added an officer. Former Army Chief General VP Malik (Retd) said Wednesday’s developments would escalate the conflict. “We went in for a non-military target. But if Pakistan starts attacking our military areas, things will escalate.”