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ISLAMABAD, Nov 14: A Pakistan Air Force JF-17 fighter jet crashed on Monday near Attock after an apparent engine malfunction, killing the pilot.

The aircraft was on a training mission when it crashed near Mullah Mansoor village at around 11am.

This was the first crash of a JF-17 — co-developed by Pakistan and China — since March 2007 when they were first flown in Pakistan.

“A PAF jet aircraft, while on a routine training mission, crashed due to technical malfunction near Attock. The pilot was fatally injured. No loss of civilian life or property has been reported on ground,” the air force said in a statement.

Witnesses said that the aircraft was flying at low altitude and its engine was on fire, sparking speculations that engine malfunctioning could have led to the accident.

But, more importantly the parachute or the ejection system did not work as the pilot tried to get out. The pilot's body was retrieved by a PAF rescue team at some distance from the jet's wreckage.

A PAF spokesman said a board of inquiry has been ordered to determine the cause of accident. The death of the pilot aside, the crash came at the most inopportune time as it happened only a day after the aircraft made its debut at the Dubai air show, a leading aviation event where Pakistani officials were aggressively trying to market it.

The marketing effort for the aircraft priced about $20 million each was focused on air forces seeking to replace Mikoyan MiG-21s, MiG-23s, MiG-29s and Northrop F-5s.

Five Middle Eastern countries in addition to China's People's Liberation Army Air Force are said to have been evaluating the aircraft.