- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 27, 2003

NEW DELHI Tensions between India and Pakistan worsened yesterday when each conducted tit-for-tat missile tests and New Delhi linked Islamabad to a massacre of 24 Hindus by unidentified gunmen.
Hours after India fired a short-range missile capable of carrying a nuclear weapon, Pakistan announced it had tested a similar missile. Each missile was capable of reaching cities in the other country.
Also, officials in Pakistan said troops along its border with India traded heavy artillery and mortar fire, leading to the death of one Pakistani civilian and the wounding of 14 others.
India successfully fired a Prithvi missile from its Chandipur testing range in eastern Orissa state. The missile has a range of 95 miles. Defense Ministry spokesman Baljit Singh Menon said the test was routine.
Pakistan tested one of its Abdali missiles, which can carry nuclear as well as conventional warheads and has a range of up to 132 miles. Aziz Ahmed Khan, spokesman for the Pakistani Foreign Ministry, would not specify the time or the location of the test.
Tensions have increased since the massacre Monday in Indian-controlled Kashmir. The victims, including two children and 11 women, were upper-caste Hindus known as Kashmiri Pandits. A group of armed men dragged them out of their homes in the village of Nadimarg and shot them at close range, police and witnesses said.
Police said they believed the gunmen were Islamic militants, who have been fighting since 1989 for Kashmir's independence from India. More than 61,000 people, mostly Kashmiri civilians, have been killed in the insurgency.
"The pattern, methodology and the nature of targets of these acts of terror are all too familiar and, therefore, the culpability of Pakistan is all too clear," said Navtej Sarna, a spokesman for the Indian Foreign Ministry.
New Delhi has long accused Pakistan of supporting the Islamic militants. Pakistan insists it does not provide funding or weapons.
The two countries came to the brink of war after similar attacks a year ago. Both sides rushed hundreds of thousands of troops to their shared border, raising concerns about a nuclear exchange, before international mediation defused the conflict.
Mr. Sarna took an indirect swipe at the United States and its war on terrorism, in which Pakistan is a key ally.
"The global war against terrorism can only be won when it is pursued without double standards and terrorism is eradicated wherever it exists," he said.
"The combat against international terrorism is ill-served if threats in some cases are met with military means, and in others with calls for restraint and dialogue."
Washington repeatedly has called on India and Pakistan to resume dialogue and was instrumental in getting the two to pull back from the brink of war last year.

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