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Last Updated: Friday, 13 April 2007, 17:54 GMT 18:54 UK
Dispute over 'near-miss' missile
Garuda plane
Garuda officials said they received no warning about the test
An Indonesian passenger jet was forced to turn round in Indian airspace to avoid a nuclear-capable missile test flight, the Indonesian government says.

Officials from Garuda airlines say they received no advance notice of the test.

But India's Ministry of External Affairs said the tests followed normal safety precautions, and that Garuda was given advance warning.

The successful test was of an Agni-III surface-to-surface missile off the country's eastern coast on Thursday.

'Great expense'

"Usually closed airspace is alerted to international authorities but the fact is, our plane flew and had to return," Indonesian foreign ministry spokesman Kristiarto Legowo told reporters in Jakarta.

We were not given any advance warning about this missile test
Garuda Director Ari Sapari

"We will summon India's diplomat here soon to seek official clarification," he said.

"We have to make sure this does not happen in the future."

But a spokesman from India's Ministry of External Affairs said: "India's missile testing programme has always followed the requisite safety precautions."

The Garuda airliner was carrying 413 Muslim pilgrims from the capital, Jakarta, to Saudi Arabia, when the Indian control tower told pilots the missile had been launched, said Ari Sapari, the national carrier's director.

"We were not given any advance warning about this missile test," he told the AP news agency.

"This was obviously confusing and worrying. It also caused us to disrupt an international flight schedule - a great financial expense."

Smoke trails

The Boeing 747 immediately returned to Jakarta and took off again for Jeddah seven hours later, he said.

Another Garuda plane bound for Riyadh also had to delay its departure because of the test.

Indonesian officials say that details of the incident may now be passed on to the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and the International Civil Aviation Organisation.

Agni II missile on parade in Delhi
India's Agni-III missiles increase military reach

The jet's exact location in relation to the missile, which trailed orange and yellow smoke as it rocketed skyward, has not yet been made public.

The missile tested is designed to reach 3,000km (1,900 miles) and puts China's major cities well into range, as well as targets deep in the Middle East.

The missile was launched from Wheeler Island off the eastern state of Orissa and is also said to be capable of carrying up to a 300-kiloton nuclear warhead.

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