India fires three officers for accidentally launching missile into Pakistan in March

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A farmer carries a sack of grass as he walks near the fenced border between India-Pakistan in Ranbir Singh Pura sector near Jammu March 1, 2019. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi//File Photo

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NEW DELHI, Aug 23 (Reuters) - The Indian Air Force said on Tuesday the government had sacked three officers for accidentally firing a missile into Pakistan in March, an incident that the two nuclear-armed rivals handled calmly as there were no casualties.

Military experts have in the past warned of the risk of accidents or miscalculations by the neighbours, which have fought three wars and engaged in numerous smaller armed clashes, usually over the disputed territory of Kashmir.

The BrahMos missile – a nuclear-capable, land-attack cruise missile jointly developed by Russia and India - was fired on March 9, prompting Pakistan to seek answers from New Delhi on the safety mechanisms in place to prevent accidental launches. read more

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"A Court of Inquiry, set up to establish the facts of the case, including fixing responsibility for the incident, found that deviation from the Standard Operating Procedures by three officers led to the accidental firing of the missile," the air force said in a statement.

It said the government had dismissed the three officers with immediate effect on Tuesday.

According to the U.S.-based Arms Control Association, the BrahMos missile's range is between 300 km (186 miles) and 500 km (310 miles), making it capable of hitting Pakistan's capital Islamabad from a northern Indian launch pad.

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Reporting by Nigam Prusty; Writing by Krishna N. Das; Editing by Alex Richardson and Gareth Jones

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