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Pakistan frees Indian pilot as crisis thaws

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Pakistan frees Indian pilot as crisis thaws

Pakistan frees Indian pilot as crisis thaws

Pakistan has released an Indian pilot it has held since Wednesday as the crisis between the two nuclear-armed nations appears to recede.

Matthew Larotonda reports.

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Pakistan frees Indian pilot as crisis thaws

Pakistan has returned the captured Indian fighter pilot who's become the face of the crisis that's brought these countries to the brink of war.

Commander Abhinandan was shot down Wednesday (February 27) in a dogfight with a Pakistani plane and landed on Pakistan's side of the disputed Kashmir territory.

Pakistan is calling his release gesture of peace.

Will it hold?

Reuters correspondent Krishna Das: (SOUNDBITE) (English) KRISHNA DAS, REUTERS INDIA CORRESPONDENT, SAYING: "Here at the Wagha border between India and Pakistan it is clear to see that Wing Commander Abhinandan has caught the imagination of the public of India.

People are euphoric here.

I mean, I can see people singing, some dancing, beating drums. They're shouting slogans like 'Hail Mother India.'

I spoke with a lot of people here.

A number of people, they told me, they hope this is beginning of a deescalation of tension between the two countries." Days of confrontation have included airstrikes and artillery fire, even on the day of the pilot's release, although it seems to be dying down.

Meanwhile, India appears to be backtracking on claims that it killed 300 militants in an airstrike that occurred the day before the commander was shot down.

India said they were targeting a camp run by a group that claimed responsibility for the deadliest attack on Indian security forces in Kashmir in decades, last month.

Pakistan had always disputed the account.

Reuters reporters who visited the site of the air strike, villages, and a local hospital found no evidence of casualties.




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