Escalation between nuke-armed states: India shoots down Pakistani jet after Pakistan downed 2 of theirs

India has shot down a Pakistani jet after two of its fighters were downed by Pakistan, in a conflict played out over the skies of the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir.

This comes after a captured Indian pilot was paraded at a crash site in Kashmir where two warplanes were gunned down in a terrifying escalation of tensions between the two nuclear-armed neighbors.

In a sign of the deepening crisis, Pakistan closed its airspace ‘until further notice’. At least six airports were shuttered in India, and a vast area of airspace north of New Delhi was closed to civilian flights.

Officials in the Indian Kashmir said that two pilots and a civilian had died after a Mi-17 transport helicopter crashed in Kashmir.

Escalation between nuke-armed states India shoots down Pakistani jet after Pakistan downed 2 of theirs (2).jpg

Ministry of External Affairs, Raveesh Kumar, told reporters 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.”

Tensions between the two nuclear-armed neighbors have reached a boiling point after India carried out air strikes on the biggest Jaish-e-Mohammed terror group training camp at Balakot inside Pakistan, eliminating a large number of Muslim terrorists.

The strikes followed a suicide bomb attack on February 14, in which a Muslim terrorist rammed a car bomb into a paramilitary convoy in Awantipora murdering 40 Central Reserve Police Force personnel and wounding several others, in deadliest terror attack for Indian security forces in Kashmir in two decades.

Nearly 40 killed in deadliest terror attack on Indian security forces in Kashmir in years

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan has since opened up for talks with Indian leaders over the latest Kashmir clashes, saying: ‘If escalation begins from here, where will it go?’.

‘Can we afford any miscalculation with the kind of weapons that we have and you have?’ he said in a televised statement after both sides said they had shot down each other’s warplanes.

Pakistan’s foreign ministry said the strikes on Wednesday are aimed at “avoiding human loss and collateral damage.”

But in a chilling threat, the statement said Pakistanis have “no intention of escalation, but are fully prepared to do so if forced into that paradigm.”

Escalation between nuke-armed states India shoots down Pakistani jet after Pakistan downed 2 of theirs (3).jpg