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India plans wargames near Pakistan border

NEW DELHI: The Indian military is to conduct one of its largest mock war drills -- involving 20,000 troops -- close to the country's border with nuclear-armed rival Pakistan, an official said on Monday.

The maneuvers, named Shoorveer or Brave Warrior, which will also involve 200 Russian-made tanks, are due to begin in the deserts of India's state of Rajasthan next month, army spokesman colonel Jagdeep Dahiya told AFP.

"The exercise will be one of the largest maneuvers conducted so far," he said, adding that latest warplanes would be factored into the drills, which are scheduled to end in May.

In a separate statement the military said tanks, frontline combat vehicles, artillery, helicopters, fighter jets, drones, air-defence weapons and military radars would be part of the exercise.

Another military source said the event would be held less than 200 kilometers (124 miles) from the highly militarized border with Pakistan, with which India has fought three wars since independence from British rule in 1947.

Dahiya dismissed fears the exercise -- to be conducted by an elite military corps raised only for cross-border assault -- would crank up tensions between New Delhi and Islamabad.

"We do inform Pakistan in advance whenever such large-scale exercises are conducted by us," the army colonel added.

New Delhi froze peace talks started in 2004 with Islamabad following attacks in Mumbai in 2008 by gunmen India says came from Pakistan. The assault left 166 people dead.

The slow-moving peace dialogue resumed early last year with cross visits by officials to India and Pakistan.

The two South Asian adversaries carried out tit-for-tat nuclear detonations in 1998 and declared themselves as nuclear-armed states.

 

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