Posted: 6/7/2002 3:01:17 PM EDT
ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - Pakistani jet fighters shot down an unmanned Indian spy plane close to the tense Indian border, the Pakistani armed forces said early on Saturday.
A military statement said the aircraft was shot down by Pakistan Air Force (PAF) jets at 11 p.m. (noon) on Friday and its wreckage fell close to the town of Raja Jang, south of Lahore, capital of Pakistan's Punjab province.
In New Delhi, no comment was immediately available from the Indian armed forces.
The incident came as a U.S. peace envoy was in the region to try to defuse a military standoff between the two nuclear-armed neighbors that has sparked fears of war over the disputed territory of Kashmir.
"The Indian aerial vehicle was on a reconnaissance and spying mission when it violated the Pakistan airspace close to Lahore," the Pakistani statement said.
"The violation was monitored and the fighter aircraft of the PAF were immediately scrambled."
"The PAF fighter jets intercepted the unmanned aircraft inside Pakistan's territory and shot it down."
The Indian and Pakistani troops have been engaged in heavy shelling across the mountainous military Line of Control that divides Kashmir.
Friday's was the first spy plane shootdown reported by Pakistan since the present standoff was sparked by an attack on Indian parliament in December that New Delhi blamed on Pakistan-based Muslim militants fighting its rule in Kashmir.
Tensions heightened after a deadly attack on an army camp in the Indian-ruled part of Kashmir last month that New Delhi again blamed on Pakistan-based militants.
The reported shootdown took place hours after U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage held talks with Indian leaders in New Delhi in his efforts to defuse the tensions.
Armitage had held similar talks with Pakistani leaders on Thursday and was due to brief Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on his discussions on Saturday. Rumsfeld is due in the region next week.
Pakistan does have some F-16s we gave them, but they are sort of antiquated ones. India has lots of Migs, and both sides have Mirages and other French planes and choppers. India is also working on their own fighter design (I thin the test models have flown already??). Their fighter design is supposed to be pretty advanced, but also cheap to make.