Two crew members were killed and four others were injured in an air crash Saturday morning near northern India’s base in Sargodha city. The tragedy is reported to be the highest official casualty so far in the current Indian Air Force (IAF) campaign against Pakistan, which includes more than 10,000 strikes over the last week alone.
If confirmed, the air crash will raise serious questions about the conduct of India’s military operations, which have involved strafing of suspected targets in the western part of the country.
An official army spokesman said that the pilot and two others were killed in the crash of an Mi-17, a twin-engine helicopter. The helicopter was reportedly on a training mission.
Indian Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman visited the site of the crash and officials from the IAF were expected to arrive Sunday.
Army General Rawat, the head of India’s Army and of the 4th Corps (North), is an army officer in charge of Indian troops defending India’s northeastern borders.
Army Chief General Bipin Rawat, the head of India’s Army and of the 4th Corps (North), is an army officer in charge of Indian troops defending India’s northeastern borders. (Yours truly)
A security official told AFP news agency that three Indian soldiers on a remote army base were injured in the crash, while one of those killed was a senior army officer.
“I was about to go to Sargodha at 5 a.m. when I got a call that an air force helicopter has crashed,” said Harmanbir Singh, an army officer based at the Sargodha base.
He told AFP the base was largely deserted as officers were on strike in protest of worsening food shortages and a suspension of pay raises.
News of the crash comes a day after the IAF carried out its most deadly airstrike to date, which targeted a tunnel complex inside Pakistan. In that strike, which killed 10 Pakistani soldiers, the forces fired 63 mortars into Pakistan’s Khyber district.
One of India’s deadliest attacks on its eastern neighbor, the surgical strike may have been to take back the use of the bases of terrorist groups operating from Pakistani territory.
The raid was conducted using four craft comprising two helicopters, two fighter jets and a commando force.
India claims that nearly a dozen insurgent groups, including the ones from terrorist groups operating from Pakistan, operate camps inside Pakistan.
Based on reporting by The Associated Press and the New York Times.
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