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August 10, 1999
IAF shoots down Pak reconnaissance plane
Our Correspondent in New Delhi
The French-made Atlantique marine security surveillance aircraft was shot down off Kori creek near Koteshwar, in Kutch district of Gujarat state.
Indian authorities said the plane had entered 3 km into the Indian territory, though Pakistan claimed that the plane had been shot down in its airspace.
The aircraft had 16 people on board, who are believed killed. The Atlantique, though a reconnaissance plane, is capable of firing the French-made Exocet anti-ship missiles.
Pakistani Foreign Minister Sartaj Aziz has accused India of wantonly shooting down the aircraft which was flying over its own territory, over Sir Creek. The aircraft had five officers, and 11 other cadres.
He said that Pakistan reserved the right to make an ''appropriate response.''
An Indian Air Force statement said its planes scrambled to intercept the plane after it was detected by radar on the ground. Air force officials said on condition of anonymity that the Pakistani plane was in Indian airspace for 15 minutes.
The jet fighters signaled that the plane should land at an Indian air base, but the Pakistani pilot ``acted in a hostile manner'' by turning his aircraft toward the Indian jet, the statement said.
The MiG-21 opened fire, hitting the Pakistani plane in the right engine, the statement said. Indian helicopters found the wreckage a mile south of the Pakistani border, near Kori Creek in Gujarat state.
This is the first time India has brought down a plane in peacetime.
Recently, at the height of the Kargil crisis, Pakistan had downed two IAF fighters for reportedly straying across the Line of Control in Kashmir.
Meanwhile, a defence ministry press briefing is currently underway in New Delhi.
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