8 killed in India-Pakistan fighting amid high tensions

Supporters of the Peoples Democratic Party, a pro India political party shout slogans during a protest against the ban on a Kashmir-based Islamist political party called Jamaat-e Islami, in Srinagar

Five Indian security personnel were killed Friday in a gunfight after troops laid siege to a house where militants were hiding in Handwara district. The fresh anti-militancy drive was launched after a Kashmiri suicide bomber, a member of a Pakistan-based militant group, killed 40 Indian paramilitary police on February 14.

Fighting resumed overnight into dawn Saturday, leaving two siblings and their mother dead in Indian-controlled Kashmir.

A Pakistani Kashmiri carries his belonging and walks through a market at his hometown in Chakoti on the violent border that separates the Himalayan region of Kashmir between Pakistan and India, Saturday, March 2, 2019.

Pakistan says last week's strikes were both ineffective - claiming they hit an empty hillside - and an unprecedented breach of the Line of Control, the first in years.

The US embassy in Islamabad said on Sunday it was looking into reports that Pakistan used F-16 jets to shoot down the Indian pilot, a potential violation of Washington's military sale agreements that limit how Pakistan can use the planes.

Pakistan and India both carried out aerial bombing missions this week, including a clash on Wednesday that saw an Indian pilot shot down over the disputed region of Kashmir in an incident that alarmed global powers and sparked fears of a war. But India has been less impressed - accusing Pakistan of breaching the Geneva Convention.

Earlier, the Pakistan Foreign Office said that the 46th session of the Council of Foreign Ministers (CFM) of OIC concluded with a resolution that "supported" Pakistan on the Kashmir issue.

People carry national flags as they celebrate after Pakistan shot down two Indian military aircrafts in Lahore Pakistan

Pakistan's military nevertheless said its air force and navy "continue to be alert and vigilant", but that it would respect the ceasefire.

According to Pentagon's Defense Security and Cooperation Agency (DSCA) F-16 jets were meant to be used to "enhance Pakistan's ability to conduct counter-insurgency and counter terrorism operations". Pakistan denied using the American-supplied fighter and denied that any of its planes had been shot down. India's military said that Pakistan was firing mortar shells across the LoC.

Jaitley dismissed suggestions that the rapid escalation in tensions with Pakistan had anything to do with India's domestic politics ahead of a general election due by May.

Also in Pakistan-administered Kashmir, government official Umar Azam said the Indian troops with heavy weapons "indiscriminately targeted border villagers" along the LoC.

On both sides of Kashmir, thousands of people have fled to government-run temporary shelters or relatives' homes in safer areas to escape deadly and relentless shelling along the frontier. "One teenager has been killed and four wounded in Nakyal sector", Raja Moazzam, a senior official in Pakistan-administered Kashmir, told AFP Saturday. We are at the mercy of these soldiers, " said Mohammed Akram, a resident in Mendhar area in Indian-controlled Kashmir.

Much of Commander Varthaman's three-day stint as a Pakistani prisoner of war was broadcast on social media. "He is our friend and we have historical relations with them (Saudi Arabia)", Pakistan's foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi told reporters.

Abhinandan Varthaman not released under any pressure, says Pak foreign minister
Pakistan responded by shooting down at least one Indian bomber and capturing its pilot and dropping bombs on Indian territory. He was in the custody of Pakistan Army since Wednesday when his parachute drifted and fell inside Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.

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