The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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India, Pak in tit-for-tat missile tests

New Delhi/Islamabad, March 26: India and Pakistan test-fired nuclear-capable, short-range surface-to-surface missiles in tit-for-tat moves today, a day after Delhi blamed Islamabad for stoking tensions in Kashmir.

India successfully test-fired the Prithvi, capable of carrying nuclear warheads, from Chandipur-on-sea near Balasore in Orissa as part of user trials by the army. The missile, which has strike ranges varying from 150- 250 km, had a perfect lift-off at about 11:30 in the morning, Integrated Test Range sources said.

Today’s trial, which came a day after Delhi accused Islamabad of stoking violence in Kashmir where 24 Pundits were gunned down by militants on Sunday, was also part of the Defence Research and Development Organisation’s efforts to improve the country’s missile defence system. It has already conducted 16 trials of the army version of the missile since the first launch on February 22, 1988, from Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh.

The indigenously developed 8.5-metre-long missile can carry 500-1,000 kg payload depending on its range. The missile, which can also hit targets at a minimum distance of 40 km, can use both solid and liquid propellant to reach a target 150 km away in just 300 seconds. “It’s just one of those routine tests,” an official, who did not want to named, said. “It is the version that is already with the army. There is nothing big about it.”

Pakistan also displayed its strength by test-firing the short-range missile, Abdali. “We have conducted a successful Abdali missile test today and we had given prior information to all our neighbours about the test,” foreign office spokesman Aziz Ahmed Khan said.

Abdali, a Battlefield Range Ballistic Missile, has a range of around 180 km.

Khan said Delhi did not inform Islamabad about the Prithvi test-fire. “We were not notified about the test in accordance with the memorandum of understanding signed between the two countries on February 21, 1991,” he said.

The test-fire “has come as a surprise to us”.

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