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tension Kashmir conflict disrupts European air travel

soldier on duty in Kashmir

Closed skies are mirrored on Kashmir streets, where many shops also remain shut.

(Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

As tensions continue to mount in Kashmir, Swiss and other European airlines have been forced to delay and reroute flights because of the disputed airspace.

Pakistan reportedly closed its airspace on Wednesday following military skirmishes with neighbouring India over the long-disputed border region of Kashmir.

The Swiss News Agency also reported that Afghanistan had closed access to its skies.

For Swiss and other European airlines, the disruption has led to delays and the rerouting of some lines. On Wednesday, flight LX146 from Delhi to Zurich took two hours longer than normal on account of the alternative route; flight LX181 from Bangkok to Zurich was forced to make an unscheduled fuel stop in Oman to compensate for the longer route.

As tension continues between Pakistan and India – who both claim Kashmir in full but rule in part – a Swiss International Air Lines spokeswoman said that the plans and potential disruption in the coming days remain unclear.

Lufthansa and Austrian airlines were also reporting delays on flights from Bangkok, Delhi, and Singapore.

+ swissinfo.ch’s in-depth coverage of Indian affairsexternal link

The tension, initially prompted by a suicide bombing in Kashmir by Pakistan-based militants on February 14, escalated on Wednesday when both India and Pakistan said they had shot down each other’s fighter jets. Videos also emerged of a captured Indian pilot.

Both countries have ordered air strikes over the past two days, the first time in history that two nuclear-armed powers have done so, while ground forces have exchanged fire in more than a dozen locations.

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