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Friday, April 16, 1999 Published at 15:48 GMT 16:48 UK

World: South Asia

India fires new missile

There are growing fears of an arms race on the subcontinent

India is reported to have test-fired a surface-to-air missile in the latest round of tit-for-tat tests being carried out with its neighbour, Pakistan.

Indian defence ministry officials said the Trishul missile was test-fired twice from a launchpad in the eastern state of Orissa on Friday.

Trishul, named after a trident carried by the Hindu god of destruction, Shiva, can carry a 15 kg (33 lb) warhead up to a range of 50 km (31 miles).

The new missile launch comes after Pakistan test-fired two missiles within 24 hours this week.

Pakistan's tests were carried out in response to India's test of an Agni-2 medium-range missile over the weekend.

Arms race fears

Pakistan tested its medium-range Shaheen-1 missile - capable of carrying a nuclear warhead to targets 750km away - on Thursday.

On Wednesday it test-fired the Ghauri-2 missile, which has a range of around 2,300km - similar to the range of the Agni-2 nuclear-capable missile fired by India at the weekend.

In May last year, the two countries conducted tit-for-tat nuclear detonations - leading to US-backed economic sanctions.

But more recently the two countries appeared to have entered a period of détente symbolised by a series of test matches between the two national cricket teams and the start of a cross border bus service.

Western diplomats believe that for all the improvements in Indo-Pakistani relations, Islamabad and Delhi remain committed to developing missile systems which could deliver nuclear warheads.

Pakistan and India have fought three wars since gaining independence in 1947.

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Internet Links

Islamic Republic of Pakistan

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Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Site

South Asians against nukes

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