The Indian Air Force said 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.
In a statement, the air force said a formal inquiry found that “deviation from the standard operating procedures by three officers led to the accidental firing” of the unarmed missile into Pakistan.
The BrahMos cruise missile, fired from India on March 9, landed in Pakistan’s eastern Punjab province and damaged a wall in a residential area.
No deaths or injuries were reported.
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.
“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 US-based Arms Control Association, the BrahMos missile’s range is between 300km and 500km, making it capable of hitting Pakistan’s capital Islamabad from a northern Indian launch pad.
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