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Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas, shown here in July, says Pakistan has forced an Indian military helicopter to land and taken its four-member crew into custody. (Associated Press)

Pakistan forced an Indian military helicopter to land Sunday for allegedly violating its airspace near the disputed border with Kashmir and took its four-member crew into custody, Pakistani military officials said.

The incident could raise tensions between the rival nuclear powers, who have fought three wars since they gained independence from Britain in 1947. The relationship has improved somewhat in recent months, especially regarding trade, but there is still significant distrust on both sides.

The helicopter was intercepted about 20 kilometres inside Pakistani territory, said a Pakistani military official, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.

It was forced to land near Skardu, a town in Gilgit-Baltistan that is close to K2, the second highest mountain in the world, said Pakistan army spokesman Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas. Skardu is about 100 kilometres north of the UN-drawn Line of Control separating Kashmir into areas controlled by Pakistan and India.

Indian officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

The three pilots and their crew chief were taken into custody and are safe, said Abbas. He did not say what Pakistan planned to do with them or with the helicopter, a Lama model designed for high-altitude performance.

Two of the three wars between Pakistan and India have been fought over the disputed Himalayan territory of Kashmir. Both countries claim Kashmir in its entirety.