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India Claims to Shoot Down Pakistani Drone

by AFP

Prakash Singh—AFP

Media reports claim the unmanned aerial vehicle was downed with an air-to-air missile

India’s air force shot down on Monday a Pakistani military drone that strayed over its border, Indian media claimed as tensions continued to run high between the two arch foes.

An Indian Sukhoi-30 fighter downed the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) with an air-to-air missile near Bikaner in the northern Indian state of Rajasthan not far from the Pakistani border, the reports citing unnamed sources said.

It was the second attempt by Pakistan to send a drone inside India in the last six days after one was shot down on Feb. 27, the Press Trust of India (PTI) news agency claimed. There was no official comment from either side.

Last week the nuclear-armed Asian countries had their most serious standoff in years after a suicide bombing in India-Occupied Kashmir killed 40 Indian paramilitaries. A militant group based in Pakistan claimed responsibility for the Feb. 14 blast, which was perpetrated by a local, and 12 days later Indian jets bombed what New Delhi called a terrorist training camp deep inside Pakistan although Islamabad and independent reports have denied this.

The next day Pakistani aircraft entered Indian airspace and the two nations’ jets engaged in aerial dogfights, with at least one Indian aircraft shot down and its pilot captured by Pakistan. The pilot was handed back to India last Friday in what Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan called a “peace gesture,” easing tensions and soothing international alarm.

Both sides have continued to fire artillery and mortars over their de-facto border in Kashmir, the Line of Control (LoC), killing several civilians on both sides. This continued on Monday, both countries said, but no new casualties were reported. Pakistan said a soldier killed on Saturday was “buried with full military honor for defending the motherland.”

Indian forces have also arrested several hundred separatist leaders and activists in Kashmir, and engaged in deadly gun battles with militants in its part of the territory.

Kashmir has been a bone of contention between India and Pakistan since independence in 1947, with two of the countries’ three wars fought over the Himalayan territory. An armed insurgency there, which India accuses Pakistan of backing, something Islamabad denies, since the late 1980s has killed tens of thousands of people, mostly civilians.

“The Indian military has shown bravery and strength. Friends, I can’t wait for too long. It is in my nature to settle each score,” Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said late Monday at a political rally. “For how long will they keep killing innocents? It is our principle that we will get into their homes, to eliminate them,” Modi, who is running for a second term in imminent elections, said in his home state of Gujarat.

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