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24 May, 2019 23:20

India explodes 500-kg bomb as tit-for-tat tests raise tensions with Pakistan

India explodes 500-kg bomb as tit-for-tat tests raise tensions with Pakistan

While the leaders and top diplomats of India and Pakistan exchanged polite pleasantries in recent days, their respective militaries have been testing powerful weapons, raising the stakes in their decades-long conflict.

India announced Friday that it had successfully tested a guided 500-kilogram bomb, capable of correcting its flight path with steering rudders during the free-fall from an aircraft.

“The guided bomb achieved the desired range and hit the target with high precision. All the mission objectives have been met,” read a press release from the Indian military’s research and development division. It came two days after the test of the BrahMos, a cruise missile with a 300 km range.

Between India’s two tests, neighboring Pakistan field-tested a deadly projectile of its own on Thursday: the Shaheen II, a “deterrence” ballistic missile with a range of 1,500 kilometers.

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The testing of the weapons – all capable of carrying nuclear warheads, which both countries possess – comes on the backdrop of national elections in India and cordial diplomatic exchanges between the two nations’ foreign ministers and their heads of state.

As the party of Indian PM Narendra Modi emerged from the elections victorious, markedly increasing their representation in the parliament, Pakistani PM Imran Khan offered Modi his congratulations in a tweet, saying he hoped to work with him “for peace, progress and prosperity in South Asia.”

Modi responded with gratitude, stating that he prioritized “peace and development in our region.” A similarly friendly exchange happened the day before between the two nations’ foreign ministers.

These mutual messages of peace, however, were also counter-balanced by a stern warning to Pakistan from India’s envoy to the US, Harsh Vardhan Shringla, who reportedly said no talks between the two countries would take place until Pakistan demonstrates “immediate, efficient and verifiable” actions to curb terrorist groups operating from its territory.

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Tensions between the two neighboring nations over the disputed Indian territory of Kashmir reach a boiling point in February, when India conducted airstrikes against militants on the Pakistani territory. Pakistan responded by dispatching its own jets to target the Indian air force, downing at least one fighter, while allegedly losing one F-16 – a claim Islamabad denies.

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