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Pakistan kicks off missile tests

File photo of a Hatf-3 Ghaznavi missile during a May 2002 test.
File photo of a Hatf-3 Ghaznavi missile during a May 2002 test.

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ISLAMABAD, Pakistan -- Pakistan's military says it has successfully tested a short-range missile capable of carrying conventional or nuclear weapons, the first of several planned launches in the coming days.

The surface-to-surface Hatf-3 Ghaznavi missile has a range of 290 kilometers (180 miles), making it capable of striking several key targets within neighboring nuclear rival, India.

Shortly after the test, military officials released a statement saying India and other neighboring countries had been informed of the test in advance, in accordance with standard procedure.

It did not say where the launch took place.

New Delhi has not made any comment on the Pakistani test other than to say it was notified prior to the test.

Pakistan says the test shows the country's commitment to regional peace.

"The timing of the tests reflect Pakistan's determination not to engage in a tit-for-tat syndrome to other tests in the region," according to an army statement.

"Pakistan will maintain the pace of its own missile defense program and conduct tests as per its technical needs."

It is the second time Pakistan has tested the surface-to-surface Hataf-3 Ghaznavi.

In March, Pakistan and India conducted a series of missile tests, raising fears of a heightened arms race between the two South Asian rivals.

Since achieving independence from Britain in 1947, India and Pakistan have fought three wars, two of them over the disputed Himalayan territory of Kashmir.

In mid-2002 the two countries stood on the brink of a fourth war amid tensions over what India said was Pakistani support for Islamic militants carrying out terrorist attacks on Indian soil.

Pakistan denies the Indian charges, saying it only gives moral support to groups advocating the right of the Kashmiri people to self-determination.

In recent months the two sides have made tentative steps towards easing tensions, re-establishing full diplomatic ties and re-connecting transport links.

However, both countries retain tens of thousands of troops along their joint frontier and conduct regular missile tests as a way of flexing diplomatic muscle and demonstrating their military readiness.

-- CNN Producer Syed Mohsin Naqvi contributed to this report


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