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Missile Tests, Artillery Fire Raise Tensions Over Kashmir

March 27, 2003|From Associated Press

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Pakistan and India conducted tit-for-tat launches of nuclear-capable missiles Wednesday and traded heavy artillery fire across a cease-fire line in the disputed Kashmir region.

India also accused Pakistan of having a hand in this week's killing of 24 Hindus in Kashmir. Pakistan condemned the massacre by suspected Islamic separatists and called for an independent inquiry.

Analysts in Pakistan said they feared New Delhi might be trying to take advantage of the U.S.-led war in Iraq to ratchet up tensions over Kashmir. One of the only things Pakistan and India have agreed on recently is their opposition to the war in Iraq. Leaders of both countries have called for a quick end while avoiding outright criticism of Washington.

The South Asian rivals have fought three wars since gaining independence from Britain in 1947 -- two of them over Kashmir.

On Wednesday, India fired first -- announcing that it had shot off a Prithvi missile from its Chandipur testing range 750 miles southeast of New Delhi. The missile has a range of 95 miles.

Pakistan followed hours later with an announcement that it had tested its Abdali surface-to-surface missile, which has a range of 132 miles. Officials would not give details of the test.

In the artillery exchange, Pakistan said one person on its side was killed and 14 wounded. India also said it suffered casualties but gave no figures.

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