Fighter jet crashes in Islamabad, capital of Pakistan, during rehearsal of the parade

ISLAMABAD: A Pakistani fighter jet crashed in Islamabad Wednesday in an apparent accident during a rehearsal for an upcoming military parade in the capital, authorities said.

There was no immediate news about the fate of the pilot or co-pilot, nor details about the area where the plane crashed.

The images on social networks showed a large column of smoke that rose to the sky after the plane fell to the ground apparently trying to loop.

reports with regret that a PAF F-16 aircraft crashed near Shakarparian, Islamabad during the rehearsals of 23rd March parade. Rescue teams have been dispatched towards the site of the crash, the air force said in a statement.

A second security official who spoke on condition of anonymity also confirmed the accident.

The rehearsals were taking place before the annual military parade that is set to be held in Islamabad this month to celebrate on March 23.

F-16 aircraft are among the most valuable defense hardware in the arsenal of the Pakistani army. The country has a fleet of approximately 50 F-16, each with a value of at least $ 40 million.

Pakistan has a checkered military and civil aviation safety record, with frequent airplane and helicopter accidents over the years.

Wednesday's incident occurs only a few months after a fighter plane crashed during a training mission near the city of Mianwali in the eastern province of Punjab, killing both pilots.

In July last year, at least 18 people died when a small military army plane crashed into a residential area in the Pakistani city of.

And in 2016 a Pakistan International Airlines plane burst into flames after one of its two turboprop engines failed while traveling from remote northern Pakistan to Islamabad, killing more than 40 people.

Pakistan's powerful army consumes a large part of the country's annual budget, spending millions on sophisticated hardware in the impoverished nation, which critics say has been at the expense of investment in other sectors.