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Indian Air Force pilot missing in action, Pakistan claims they have custody

February 27, 2019

A pilot of the Indian Air Force is missing in action and may be in the custody of Pakistan according to news reports. Pakistan claims to have the pilot in their custody, news that the government of India has not confirmed so far. All that India is saying is that the pilot is "missing in action".

This comes a day after Indian fighter jets struck a terror training camp within Pakistan. India's Foreign Ministry has said Pakistan responded using its Air Force to target military installations in India. The attempts were not successful.

The Pakistan Air Force was detected and the Indian Air Force responded instantly. In that aerial engagement, one Pakistan Air Force fighter aircraft was shot down by a MiG 21 Bison of the Indian Air Force. The Pakistani aircraft was seen by ground forces falling from the sky on the Pakistan side. In this engagement, we have unfortunately lost one MiG 21. The pilot is missing in action. Pakistan has claimed that he is in their custody. We are ascertaining the facts. - Raveesh Kumar, Foreign Ministry spokesperson

The pilot has been identified by some news reports as one Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, son of a retired Indian Air Force officer. Images of the pilot bleeding and handcuffed have been circulated on social media.

The Pakistan Army has released a video of the captured pilot where he can be seen saying, "I am Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman. I am an IAF officer. My service number is 27981."

In the meantime, Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan has made an appeal to India for talks, saying, "We understand you are pained by Pulwama tragedy. We do not support Pakistan's soil be used for terrorism but we were bound to retaliate and take action. We offered peace to India after what happened in Pulwama. I urge Narendra Modi to sit across the table and talk to us."

Khan also said that nuclear weapons are available to both India and Pakistan and asked, "Can we afford to miscalculate the situation with the kind of weapons we have."

This is a developing news situation and we will update you regularly.

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