The Mi-17 Indian Air Force chopper, which crashed in Budgam in Jammu and Kashmir on February 27, was hit by an Indian missile during “friendly fire”, a high-level investigation found on Friday, PTI reported. The investigators also held four air force officers, including a group captain, guilty.

As many as six military personnel and a civilian were killed in the incident, which took place a day after the air force conducted strikes in Balakot, Pakistan, and on the day of a dogfight between Indian and Pakistani jets.

The IAF headquarters had ordered a Court of Inquiry into the incident. The inquiry found that the ‘Identification of Friend or Foe’ system on-board the helicopter was switched off, and there was a “vital gap” in coordination between the ground crew and the chopper.

An unidentified official in the Indian military told PTI that the four officers will face action. “The guilty personnel will face severe punishment as per provisions of the military law,” the unidentified official said. He added that the top brass of the Indian Air Force will decide on the quantum of punishment.

IAF jets had struck a Jaish-e-Mohammad terrorist camp in Balakot in Khyber Paktunkhwa province of Pakistan on February 26, in retaliation for the killing of 40 Central Reserve Police Force personnel in Pulwama on February 14. On February 27, Pakistan Air Force jets violated Indian airspace and shot down a MiG-21, but failed to hit military installations they had targeted.

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