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India has also closed five airports in Srinagar, Jammu, Leh, Chandigarh and Amritsar, on Wednesday for civilian air traffic shortly after an IAF jet crashed in Kashmir's Budgam district, officials said.

Meanwhile, the Foreign Ministry in Islamabad said the country's air force was carrying out airstrikes Wednesday from within Pakistani airspace across the disputed Kashmir boundary but that this was not in "retaliation to continued Indian belligerence".

He said the Indian plane flown by the captured pilot - a Mig-21 - was lost in that operation.

In the wee hours of February 26, Indian aircraft intruded the LoC near Muzaffarabad sector, however they scrambled back following timely response from the Pakistan Air Force (PAF).

Tensions have been elevated since a suicide vehicle bombing by Pakistan-based militants in Indian-controlled Kashmir killed at least 40 Indian paramilitary police on February 14, but the risk of conflict rose dramatically after India's air strike on Tuesday.

India's Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale told reporters in New Delhi that Indian fighter jets targeted Jaish-e-Mohammad camps in a pre-emptive strike after intelligence indicated another attack was being planned.

Following the incident, India on Tuesday bombed and destroyed JeM's biggest training camp in Balakot in Pakistan's restive Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, about 80-km from the Line of Control (LoC) early Tuesday, killing a "very large number" of terrorists, trainers and senior commanders. India and Pakistan have fought three major wars since partition and independence in 1947.

He said the Indian Air Force had foiled the attack successfully as the "PAF was detected and IAF responded instantly".

Pakistan said it had "taken strikes at [a] non-military target, avoiding human loss and collateral damage". "I also encouraged both ministers to prioritize direct communication and avoid further military activity".

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Several airlines, including Emirates and Qatar Airways, suspended flights to Pakistan on Wednesday after the South Asian nation closed its air space following heightened tensions with neighbouring India.

Calling for talks with India to defuse the situation, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan warned of the potentially catastrophic consequences should "better sense" not prevail.

New Delhi sought to ease soaring tensions with an infuriated Islamabad Wednesday after carrying out an air strike on Pakistan's territory, as the United States urged the nuclear-armed neighbours to "exercise restraint". "We are ascertaining the facts", Raveesh Kumar told reporters.

In New Delhi, Indian officials said Wednesday at least five of their soldiers were wounded in firing by Pakistani troops along the volatile frontier.

"Only those families are still here which have concrete bunkers built within or along their homes", said Muhammad Din, a resident of Chakothi, a village in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir near the de facto border.

"India does not wish to see further escalation of this situation", Sushma Swaraj said during a visit to China.

Such a strike inside undisputed Pakistani territory would be a serious escalation of an already bitter rivalry. He also asked the people of Pakistan to "remain prepared for all eventualities".

"We solemnly call on India and Pakistan to exercise restraint in order to avert any risk of military escalation and to preserve strategic stability in the region", it said.


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