India admits friendly fire downed helicopter in Kashmir clash

In this file photo taken on February 27, 2019 Indian soldiers and Kashmiri onlookers stand near the remains of an Indian Air Force helicopter after it crashed in Budgam district, outside Srinagar. (AFP)
Updated 04 October 2019

India admits friendly fire downed helicopter in Kashmir clash

  • Military helicopter crashed on February 27 as Indian and Pakistani aircraft engaged in dogfights
  • Missile killed all six on board in chopper

NEW DELHI: The Indian Air Force confirmed for the first time on Friday that it shot down one of its own helicopters during clashes with Pakistan in February over Kashmir, killing all six on board.
“A court of inquiry was completed and it was our mistake that our missile hit our chopper,” said the head of the Air Force, Air Chief Marshal Rakesh Kumar Bhadauria.
“We will ensure such mistakes are not repeated in the future,” he told reporters.
The military helicopter crashed on February 27 as Indian and Pakistani aircraft engaged in dogfights over Kashmir in their most serious military skirmish in years.
A day earlier Indian aircraft had bombed what New Delhi called a “terror camp” used by the Jaish-e-Mohammed militant group in the Balakot area of Pakistan.
That followed a suicide bombing on February 14 claimed by Jaish-e-Mohammed that killed 40 Indian troops.
The Indian military at the time gave no reason for the helicopter crash although media reports cited unnamed sources as saying it was friendly fire.
Confusion still surrounds how many other aircraft were shot down, with Pakistan saying it downed two Indian fighter jets but India saying it lost only one.
India meanwhile said it shot down an Pakistani F-16 — an assertion repeated by Bhadauria on Friday — but Pakistan denied this at the time.
Kashmir has been divided between India and Pakistan since 1947 and has been the spark of two wars and several clashes. China also claims a part of the Himalayan region.
Tensions have spiked again since India revoked the autonomy of the part of Kashmir that it controls on August 5.


Pakistan Medical Association, doctors fear coronavirus surge as lockdowns lifted nationwide

Updated 09 August 2020

Pakistan Medical Association, doctors fear coronavirus surge as lockdowns lifted nationwide

  • Islamabad’s PIMS hospital had less than 10 coronavirus patients before Eid Al-Adha but new patients coming in since
  • Pakistan announced on Thursday it was opening virtually all sectors closed down in March to stem the spread of COVID-19

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) and infectious disease experts on Thursday warned of a possible surge in coronavirus cases due to a premature lifting of restrictions, as the government announced a day earlier that it was opening virtually all sectors closed down in March to stem the spread of COVID-19.
Pakistan shut schools and land borders nearly five months ago, decided to limit domestic and international flights and discouraged large gatherings to try to halt the spread of the coronavirus. But with infections and deaths down nearly 80 percent since their peak as per government records, the government decided on Thursday to lift the lockdowns to help the country return to normalcy.
Pakistan celebrated the Eid Al-Adha religious holiday last week. After the last major Islamic festival, of Eid Al-Fitr, in May, infections rose to their peak in Pakistan.
Dr. Nasim Akhtar, head of infectious diseases at the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) in Islamabad, told Arab News the coronavirus ward at her hospital only had five to six patients before Eid, but new patients had once again started coming in.
“Cases registered a sharp increase after Eid Al-Fitr, and this can happen now again with the lifting of the lockdowns,” she said, adding that the government should have waited at least two more weeks to reopen restaurants and other public places.
“This is a bit early, and may worsen the situation again,” Akhtar said.
The World Health Organization has said “extreme vigilance” was needed as countries begin to exit from lockdowns, amid global concerns about a second wave of infections.
Germany earlier reported an acceleration in new coronavirus infections after it took early steps to ease its lockdown. South Korea, another country that had succeeded in limiting virus infections, saw a new outbreak.
“The next week is crucial to see if the infections soar as just one week has passed now since the Eid holidays,” Dr. Qaiser Sajjad, secretary-general of the Pakistan Medical Association, told Arab News.

 

 

Cases could also surge during the Islamic month of Muharram, which begins in late August, he said, and due to independence day celebrations on August 14. Huge crowds come out all over the world, including in Muslim-majority Pakistan, to commemorate the slaying of Imam Hussein, grandson of the Prophet Muhammed (pbuh).
“We think that the opening of all these things in a hurry ... probably this will create problems for us,” Sajjad said.
He said infections had risen sharply in the United States and Brazil after the nations lifted restrictions when cases initially declined. Spain reported 1,772 new coronavirus infections on Aug 6, marking the biggest jump since a national lockdown was lifted in June.
University of Health Sciences vice chancellor Javed Akram, however, called the reopening of public places a “wise decision.”
“The government cannot keep the cities and businesses under lockdown forever,” he said. “People should follow health guidelines to fight the virus.”