New Delhi: The aircraft that crashed in Pakistan Tuesday killing 18 people, including five military personnel, was a surveillance aircraft that the country’s army deployed to maintain a vigil on Indian military movement — both in air and land — following the Balakot strikes, defence sources told ThePrint.
The crashed aircraft was a King Air 350 turboprop of the Pakistan Army Aviation Corps and was inducted for surveillance around 2012.
The accident killed 18 people, including two pilots and three military personnel, and injured 12 others when the aircraft went down in a residential area in the garrison city of Rawalpindi early Tuesday.
Pak army statement draws flak
A Pakistan Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) statement said the two pilots and three military personnel killed had embraced “Shahadat” or martyrdom. The statement also mentioned that two high-ranking officials in the Pakistani Army were among the dead.
It, however, drew flak for leaving out the names of the 12 civilian casualties and for using the term Shahadat. The term martyr or martyrdom is generally used when a person is killed because of his religious or political beliefs.
The Indian military doesn’t officially use this term in case of soldier casualties and instead relies on killed in action.
Lahore-based journalist and rights activist Gul Bukhari tweeted, “The army crashes a plane in a residential area. And ISPR statement reads, “12 fatal civilian casualties… crew members embraced Shahadat. “And names each ‘shaheed’ and bloody civilians killed don’t merit being named.”
The army crashes a plane in a residential area. And ISPR statement reads, “12 fatal civilian casualties… crew members embraced shahadat.”
And names each ‘shaheed’ and bloody civilians killed don’t merit being named. pic.twitter.com/ddAGmTP3gt
— Gul Bukhari (@GulBukhari) July 30, 2019
Plane was on a training mission
According to media reports, the Rawalpindi district commissioner Ali Randhawa said the incident occurred between 2:30 am and 2:40 am when the small military plane was on a training mission.
He added that the dead and injured were shifted to various hospitals of Rawalpindi, where paramedics said most of the victims were badly burnt. The cause of the crash is yet to be ascertained and the rescue operation was completed by the morning, according to authorities.