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Pak jet forced Indian chopper to land: Report

Islamabad: Pakistani military scrambled a combat jet after an Indian army helicopter strayed into the country`s airspace and warned the Indian crew that the aircraft would be fired at if it tried to escape, a media report said today.

Pakistani authorities forced the Indian helicopter with a four-member crew to land after it flew across the Line of Control near Skardu on Sunday. The helicopter and crew were allowed to leave several hours later after the Directors General of Military Operations of the two sides established contact. The Dawn newspaper quoted its sources as saying that a Pakistan Air Force plane was "scrambled immediately after spotting the helicopter and at the same time the Air Defence, through its communication system, warned those on board that they would come under fire if they tried to escape".

Chief military spokesman Maj Gen Athar Abbas had not provided details of how the helicopter was forced to land on the Pakistani side. Once the Directors General of Military Operations established contact, the Indian side said "it had violated the airspace by mistake", the Dawn reported. The Indian crew was allowed to fly back after being interrogated "for a couple of hours", military sources told the daily. An unnamed PAF official claimed the Indian helicopter had flown "some 20 kilometres inside Pakistan`s territory when it was intercepted".

During their questioning, the Indian crew members made it clear that no "deliberate attempt" had been made to intrude into Pakistani airspace. On May 2, several US special forces helicopters intruded into Pakistani airspace, carrying commandos who killed al- Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden during an operation in the garrison town of Abbottabad. The Dawn quoted its sources as further saying that an investigation was underway to assess if yesterday`s incident was a "mistake or a deliberate attempt to test Pakistan?s defence capabilities".

An unnamed official said in normal circumstances, military personnel of a hostile country "were not freed in hours, but it had been done to give benefit of doubt because Pakistan did not want to vitiate the atmosphere and derail the composite dialogue process."

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