India Test-Fires Nuclear-Capable Missile

By ARCHANA MISHRA
The Associated Press
Sunday, November 19, 2006; 9:58 AM

BHUBANESHWAR, India -- India successfully test-fired a medium-range nuclear-capable missile on Sunday, days after its rival Pakistan launched a similar missile.

The Prithvi missile was fired into the Bay of Bengal from the test range in Chandipur in the eastern state of Orissa, the official said on condition of anonymity as he is not allowed to reveal his identity under ministry rules. The test comes three days after rival Pakistan carried out a similar test of its nuclear-capable Ghauri missile, also known as the Hatf 5.

The competing missile tests came after the countries concluded a crucial round of peace talks in New Delhi aimed at resolving their differences, including the thorny issue of their territorial dispute over the Himalayan region of Kashmir.

Peace talks often come under criticism from hard-liners in both India and Pakistan, which have fought three wars _ two of them over Kashmir_ since independence from Britain in 1947.

Sunday's test was "routine" and "part of the country's air defense exercises," Press Trust of India news agency quoted an unnamed official as saying.

India routinely test-fires missiles it is developing for military use, as does Pakistan. Pakistan Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Tasnim Aslam said Sunday that India had informed Pakistan ahead of time about the test, as is standard between the nuclear rivals.

On Saturday, district authorities in Chandipur evacuated around 2,750 villagers living near the missile testing range to two large shelters about a mile away, PTI said.


© 2006 The Associated Press