Pak halts Indian sub in its waters | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, March 06, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 03:45 AM, March 06, 2019

Pak halts Indian sub in its waters

Claims Islamabad as Delhi shoots down Pak drone near Rajasthan border; rivals resume barter trade in Kashmir despite tensions

Pakistan has stopped an Indian submarine from entering its waters, the navy said yesterday, as tensions continue to run high between the nuclear-armed foes.

The development came a day after India's air force shot down a Pakistani military drone that strayed over its border near Rajasthan.

"The Pakistan navy stopped an Indian submarine from entering our territorial waters," a naval spokesman said in a statement.

He said, "the Indian submarine was not targeted in line with the government's policy of maintaining peace".

It was the first such incident since 2016, when Pakistan said it had "pushed" an Indian submarine away from Pakistani waters.

The spokesman did not give further details, including when or where the submarine was detected. It was also not clear if they meant the 12 nautical mile (22 kilometre) territorial waters limit or the broader 200 nautical mile (370 kilometre) exclusive economic zone.

The navy also released what it said was video of the submarine, with the grainy black and white footage showing only what appeared to be a periscope above water.

India said its navy remained "deployed as necessary".

"Over the past several days we have witnessed Pakistan indulging in false propoganda," an Indian Navy spokesman tweeted yesterday.

An Indian government source also dismissed the video, telling AFP: "Why would a submarine in Pakistani waters have its periscope up?"

Meanwhile, Indian Navy chief Admiral Sunil Lanba yesterday warned that there are reports about terrorists being trained to carry out operations through the sea.

Addressing a gathering of global experts at the Indo-Pacific Regional Dialogue in Delhi, Lanba said the Pulwama attack was perpetrated by extremists that were "aided by a state" that seeks to destabilise India.

PAK DRONE DOWNED

Unverified reports in Indian media Monday said that a Pakistani military drone which strayed over the border had been shot down.

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 February 27, the Press Trust of India (PTI) news agency reported.

There was no official comment from either side.

In recent days the nuclear-armed Asian countries have come closer to conflict than in years, after a suicide bombing in Indian-administered Kashmir killed 40 Indian paramilitaries.

A militant group based in Pakistan claimed responsibility for the February 14 blast, and 12 days later Indian jets bombed what New Delhi called a terrorist training camp deep inside Pakistan.

Pakistan has denied any damage or casualties, and independent reporting has shown that the strikes hit a heavily forested area with little in the way of infrastructure nearby. Residents have said just one person was injured.

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".

BARTER TRADE RESUMES

India and Pakistan resumed barter trade at a border crossing in Kashmir yesterday, an Indian official said, but tension in the contested region continued with a general strike and more fighting between Indian security forces and separatists.

Trade across the border, known as the Line of Control (LoC), was part-suspended after repeated mortar and small arms fire at Uri, a border town where the exchange of goods takes place, reported Reuters.

But yesterday the route re-opened after firing in the region eased, said Riyaz Ahmad Malik, an official in the Indian-controlled part of Kashmir. Thirty-five trucks left for Chakothi on the Pakistani side of the border with a similar number moving in the opposite direction, he said.

Trade across the LoC operates on a barter system, where no money is exchanged.

TOLL RISES

Two militants of the separatist Hizbul Mujahideen were killed in a gun battle with Indian troops in South Kashmir's Pulwama district yesterday. Both militants were locals, said Tahir Saleem Khan, a police official.

Since the Pulwama attack, 15 militants have been killed in six separate gun battles in Kashmir.

Twelve Indian security personnel were killed during the operations, while two civilians also lost their lives.

Cross-border shelling between India and Pakistan has killed four civilians, with 18 injured including seven Indian troops.

Indian police have arrested more than 300 leaders and activists belonging to JeI, alleging it has links with the militants. The group denies this.

Shops and businesses were closed in many areas of Srinagar, and traffic was thin on the roads. Police and paramilitary troops were heavily deployed in sensitive areas of the city and other major towns.

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