Alwaght- India on Thursday test-fired a nuclear-capable intercontinental ballistic missile with a strike range of over 5,000 kilometers amid tensions with neighboring Pakistan.
The country's Defense Minister Nirmala Sitharaman was quoted as sayingthat test-firing of the surface-to-surface missile, Agni-V, was conducted off a test range from Abdul Kalam island in Odisha, an eastern Indian state on the Bay of Bengal.
“We have successfully launched nuclear-capable ballistic missile Agni-V today,” Sitharman was quoted as saying.
The missile, with its 17-meter-long, 2m-wide body, is capable of carrying a nuclear warhead of 1,360 kilograms.
This is the latest version of India’s indigenous missile Agni series. The military currently uses the Agni-1 (range of 700 km), Agni-2 (2,000 km), and the Agni-3 and Agni-4 (2,500-3,500 km).
The new weapon will eventually join the arsenal of India’s Strategic Forces Command, a part of the country’s Nuclear Command Authority responsible for the management and administration of the tactical and strategic nuclear weapons stockpile.
Thursday’s test-fire was the first user-associate test of the Agni-5 missile following four successful developmental trials between 2012 and 2017.
The test comes after Pakistani and Indian troops traded gunfire in the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir on Thursday, leaving three civilians and a soldier dead amid increasing tensions between the two nuclear-armed neighbors, officials from both sides said.
In a statement, Pakistan's military accused Indian troops of initiating fire from across the border and targeting Pakistani villages along Kashmir, killing two civilians and wounding five others in the latest "unprovoked" cease-fire violation. Pakistan's foreign ministry later said the dead were women.
India quickly rejected the claim, saying in fact Pakistan initiated the fire, killing a teenage girl and a soldier on the Indian side of the volatile frontier.
Pakistan's Foreign Ministry on Thursday summoned an Indian diplomat and lodged a protest over the latest alleged cease-fire violation. In a statement, spokesman Mohammad Faisal said the violations have continued despite calls for restraint.
Muslim-majority Kashmir has been divided since the partition of British colonial India into the dominion states of India and Pakistan in 1947. China also holds a small parcel of Kashmir's land.
The conflict in Indian-controlled Kashmir is basically a struggle for self-determination with residents of the region demanding a plebiscite while India rejects the call.