UPDATED: India says it accidentally fired missile into Pakistan

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NEW DELHI, March 11 (Reuters) – India said on Friday it accidentally fired a missile into Pakistan because of a “technical malfunction” during routine maintenance.

“On 9 March 2022, in the course of a routine maintenance, a technical malfunction led to the accidental firing of a missile,” the government said in a statement.

“It is learnt that the missile landed in an area of Pakistan. While the incident is deeply regrettable, it is also a matter of relief that there has been no loss of life due to the accident.”

Pakistan on Friday warned New Delhi of “unpleasant consequences” over what it said was an Indian-originated, but unidentified high-altitude supersonic object that crashed in Pakistani territory.

Pakistan foreign office said in a statement it summoned on Friday India’s charge d’affaires in Islamabad to lodge a protest over what it said was the unprovoked violation of its airspace. Pakistan called for an investigation of the incident, which it said could have endangered passenger flights and civilian lives.

Pakistan warned India in the statement “to be mindful of the unpleasant consequences of such negligence and take effective measures to avoid the recurrence off such violations in future.”

The two nuclear-armed neighbours have fought three wars and have engaged in numerous military clashes, most recently in 2019 which saw the air forces of the two engage in combat.

In a hurriedly called news conference late on Thursday night, Pakistan military spokesman Major-General Babar Iftikhar said, “On 9 March a high-speed flying object was picked up inside Indian territory by air defence operations centre of the Pakistan air force.”

He said the military was not sure of the nature of the object, which he said crashed near the eastern Pakistani city of Mian Channu and originated from the Indian city of Sirsa, in India’s western Haryana province.

Pakistan also called on India to share outcome of the investigation into the incident.

There was no immediate response from India’s Ministry of External Affairs to a Reuters’ query on the matter.

“The flight path of this object endangered many national and international passenger flights both in Indian and Pakistani airspace as well as human life and property of ground,” said military spokesman Iftikhar.

A Pakistan air force official at the news conference said the object was being analysed forensically and initial studies suggested it was a surface-to-surface supersonic missile, but was unarmed.

He said it travelled at an altitude of 40,000 feet, at Mach 3, and flew 124 kilometres (77 miles) in Pakistani airspace before crashing.

Iftikhar said the military would not jump to conclusions until they got an explanation from India, but said that Pakistan strongly protested against a “flagrant violation” of its airspace.

“Whatever caused this incident to happen, it is for the Indians to explain,” Iftikhar said.

Photo – A file picture shows a Pakistani flag over the Pakistani side of Kashmir a at Kaman Bridge near Chakothi in Pakistani Kashmir. EPA/NASIRUDDING MUGHAL

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