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Thai Airways cancels Europe flights due to Pakistani airspace closure

By Panarat Thepgumpanat

BANGKOK, Feb 28 (Reuters) - Thai Airways International said on Thursday it had cancelled more than a dozen flights to Europe after Pakistan closed its airspace amid rising tensions with India, with both claiming to have shot down the other's military jets.

Thai flights to and from cities in Europe were cancelled because they had been scheduled to fly over Pakistani airspace on Thursday, Thai Airways said in a statement.

The cities affected included London, Munich, Paris, Brussels, Milan, Vienna, Stockholm, Zurich, Copenhagen, Oslo, Frankfurt, and Rome.

In addition, all flights to and from Pakistan were cancelled on Thursday, the airline said.

Pakistan closed its airspace after India and Pakistan both claimed to have shot down the other's fighter jets on Wednesday, with Pakistan capturing an Indian pilot a day after Indian warplanes struck inside Pakistan for the first time since a 1971 war.

World powers have urged restraint between the two nuclear-armed South Asian neighbours, who have fought three wars over the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir.

Several airlines, including Emirates and Qatar Airways, suspended flights to Pakistan on Wednesday. Others, such as Singapore Airlines and British Airways, were forced to reroute flights.

Singapore Airlines said on Thursday all of its Europe-bound flights would continue as planned, without any refuelling stops, and they would reroute to avoid the affected airspace as necessary.

Malaysia Airlines said on its website it was not currently flying over the affected airspace and was avoiding Pakistan and northern Indian airspace for flights to and from Europe until further notice.

Tensions have been running high since at least 40 Indian paramilitary police were killed in a Feb. 14 suicide car bombing claimed by Pakistan-based militants in Indian-controlled Kashmir.

The risk of conflict rose dramatically on Tuesday when India launched an air strike on what it said was a militant training base.

Both countries ordered air strikes on Tuesday and Wednesday, 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. (Additional reporting by Aradhana Aravindan in SINGAPORE, and Rozanna Latiff in KUALA LUMPUR Writing by Kay Johnson Editing by Paul Tait)