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Tuesday, August 10, 1999 Published at 17:49 GMT 18:49 UK


World: South Asia

India downs Pakistani plane

Pakistan says the wreckage is on its side of the border

India has shot down a Pakistani military aircraft killing all 16 people on board.


Pakistani Information Minister Mushahid Hussain: "The aircraft was inside our territory"
Islamabad immediately branded the attack an "unprovoked aggression" and said it reserved the right to make an "appropriate response".

India says it has put its navy on high alert.

Both sides say the plane, a maritime reconnaissance and anti-submarine aircraft, was in their airspace when it was shot down.


[ image:  ]
The Pakistani Foreign Minister, Sartaj Aziz, said the "unarmed aircraft was on a training mission in the Sir Creek area" in Sindh province, southern Pakistan.

He said Karachi radar picked up Indian fighters on its screen.

India said the wreckage was lying 4km inside its territory near Kori Creek, in the western state of Gujarat.

The Indian High Commissioner in Islamabad was summoned to the Pakistan Foreign Office and a protest has been lodged with him.

Conflicting claims

Pakistan says the aircraft, a French-built Atlantique, went missing at 1100 Pakistan time and the wreckage was discovered shortly afterwards, a few kilometres inside Pakistani territory.


[ image:  ]
It says journalists will be taken to see where the plane came down near the town of Badin.

India has admitted shooting down the aircraft but says it was flying deep inside Indian airspace.

The defence ministry said two Indian Air Force combat planes intercepted the aircraft and tried to force it to land, but failed.

It said the Pakistani aircraft was shot down after acting in what was described as a hostile manner.

'We will fire'

Defence Minister George Fernandes said the "whole of the western military sector" had been placed on alert following the incident.


The BBC's James Robbins: "Very few facts are undisputed"
He added that several Pakistani helicopters had been spotted near the wreckage site on the Indian side of the border.

"We made it clear that we will not allow them to be there. We will fire. We have warned that any movement onto our side will be treated as hostile," he said.

India said Pakistan routinely violated its airspace in the area where the plane was shot down and that there had been eight intrusions between May and July.


The BBC's Daniel Lak: Both sides say the wreckage on their territory
The White House expressed concern about the upsurge in tensions which comes just weeks after the conflict over Kashmir.

Spokesman David Leavy said Washington was urging both countries to return to the process of normalising relations agreed last February.

The incident follows some 10 weeks of fighting between India and Pakistani-backed forces inside Indian-administered Kashmir.

Although fighting in the region ended last month, sporadic shelling between the two sides has continued.

There has also been an increase in militant activity in Indian-administered Kashmir with Indian military coming under attack.

Diplomat expelled

In an unrelated case, Pakistan ordered the expulsion of an Indian diplomat on Tuesday on spying charges.

It said the official, Madan Mohan Jetly, had been declared persona non grata for indulging in "activities incompatible with his official status" and given a week to leave.





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Relevant Stories

10 Aug 99 | South Asia
The disputed Sir Creek

10 Aug 99 | South Asia
Indian downing: The Atlantique

27 May 99 | South Asia
The balance of firepower

13 Jul 99 | South Asia
Analysis: Searching for a solution

26 May 99 | South Asia
India and Pakistan: Troubled Relations





Internet Links


Indian Armed Forces

Government of Pakistan

Naval Technology: The Atlantique


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