India said it accidentally fired a missile into neighbouring Pakistan this week due to a “technical malfunction” during routine maintenance, after Pakistan warned the incident could have “unpleasant consequences”.
“On 9 March 2022, in the course of a routine maintenance, a technical malfunction led to the accidental firing of a missile,” the Indian ministry of defence said in a statement on Friday.
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“It is learnt that the missile landed in an area of Pakistan. While the incident is deeply regrettable, it is also a matter of relief that there has been no loss of life due to the accident.”
The ministry said the government had “taken a serious view and ordered a high-level Court of Enquiry” into the incident.
The statement came hours after Islamabad’s foreign ministry condemned what it called an “unprovoked violation of its airspace by an Indian origin ‘super-sonic flying object'”.
India’s charge d’affaires in Islamabad had been summoned to the foreign office for a “strong protest”, it added.
The “imprudent launch” had damaged property on the ground and put at risk civilian lives and aircraft in Pakistani airspace, it said, accusing India of “callousness towards regional peace and stability”.
Military experts have in the past warned of the risk of accidents or miscalculations by the neighbours, which have fought three wars and have engaged in numerous military clashes, most recently in 2019 which saw the air forces of the two engage in combat.
Both nations have nuclear weapons.
Pakistani military spokesman Major-General Babar Iftikhar said in a late evening news conference on Thursday that a “high-speed flying object” crashed near the eastern city of Mian Channu and originated from the northern Indian city of Sirsa, in Haryana state near New Delhi.
“The flight path of this object endangered many national and international passenger flights both in Indian and Pakistani airspace as well as human life and property of ground,” he said.
A Pakistan air force official said the object travelled at an altitude of 12,200 metres (40,000 feet), at Mach 3, and flew 124km (77 miles) in Pakistani airspace before crashing.