Jammu, Dec. 14 : The Indian Army has stumbled upon a Pakistani surface-to-air missile and war head in the jungles of Kupwara near the Line of Control.
The anti-aircraft shoulder-propelled missile, which weighs 15 kg, is four feet eight inches-long and has a 10 kg warhead, was found by a patrol of 24 Rashtriya Rifles of the counter-insurgency Kilo Force when it discovered a militant hideout in the Malhapur forests in Kupwara, according to a spokesman of the force.
Documents at the hideout revealed that the Anza-I missile was meant to target Indian civilian and VIP aircraft, the spokesman said. The missile, which is manufactured in Pakistan and is used by its army, is also capable of striking fast-moving aircraft.
Pakistan had started rolling out Anza-I missiles only four years ago. Like its other missiles, this is a derivative of a North Korean missile.
The missile, which can be fired in extreme weather conditions, even in temperatures of minus 40 degree Celsius, has a range of 4.2 km, the spokesman said. A large quantity of arms and ammunition, including rocket-launchers and assault rifles, were also recovered from the hideout, he added.
The militants had abandoned the missile as it was too heavy to be carried away with security forces advancing on them, said the spokesman. Army sources said it had probably been smuggled across the LoC recently and could have been meant for a “special mission”.
The recovery of the missile, which was wrapped in polythene sheets in parts and had been recently buried, has set alarm bells ringing, especially after the recent attempts by terrorists in Kenya to bring down two Israeli aircraft. It confirms suspicions of plans to make the skies unsafe, sources said.
“This is what we see as part of the fresh strategy of Pakistan to keep things hot in Kashmir,” said a senior army officer. He did not rule out the possibility of more such missiles having found their way into Jammu and Kashmir. “We should be looking at that,” he added.
This is the second time in the last two years that the army has found surface-to-air missiles in the arsenal of militants. A year-and-a-half ago, soldiers of an air defence unit had found an Anza missile in the Poonch sector after busting a Laskhar-e-Toiba hideout.
The woes of the security forces were compounded with reports that the al Qaida has sent a contingent into Jammu and Kashmir to strike at vital installations.