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Pakistan, India 'move missiles' to border

Indian soldier
Border skirmishes are on the rise since the December 13 attack on India's parliament  

NEW DELHI, India -- India and Pakistan have reportedly moved ballistic missiles and troops close to their shared border regions and evacuated villages as tensions between the two countries mount.

The reports of deployment come as the leaders of both countries issue blunt statements on their tense relationship, saying they do not want a war but are prepared to fight if necessary.

Tensions between the South Asian nuclear-capable neighbors have escalated since a December 13 suicide attack on India's Parliament that killed 14 people.

While the two have fought for decades over the disputed region of Kashmir, the attack has sparked a trading of accusations and a renewed bout of border skirmishes.

India says the parliament attack was planned and carried out by two terrorist groups based in Pakistan, with the tacit support of the government, a claim that Islamabad disputes.

Missile movement

CNN's Mimi Mees says both nations are reported to have moved ballistic missiles to their frontiers (December 25)

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The Times of India has reported that Pakistan is deploying medium range ballistic missile batteries in the forward areas of the international border in the Jammu and Poonch regions in the last 24 hours.

Meanwhile in New Delhi, the Hindustan Times has reported that India has moved short-range missiles to the northern Punjab state, along the border with Pakistan.

Pakistani military units have also been seen moving medium-range missile batteries to the border in Kashmir, the paper added.

An Indian air force official told The Associated Press that air force jets and weapons had been moved toward the border, after military authorities received concrete intelligence that Pakistan was moving its forces there.

Thousands of soldiers are said to be massing near the border on both sides.

'War being thrust upon us'

Amid the military buildup, Pakistani's president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, said on Tuesday his nation's army is "fully prepared and capable of defeating all challenges."

Relations with India could improve if India shed its "superiority complex" and dealt with Pakistan "on an equal footing," Musharraf said in an address to the nation on the 125th anniversary of Pakistan's founder, Mohammed Ali Jinnah.

For his part, Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee accused Pakistan of pushing the two countries to the brink of war.

"We don't want war but war is being thrust upon us. And we will have to face it," he said in New Delhi as he celebrated his 77th birthday.

"We have said that the fight this time must be the final war against terrorism."

Pakistan meanwhile has detained the leader of an Islamic organization blamed by India for the parliament attack.

Masood Azhar leader of the militant Jaish-e-Mohammed (Army of Mohammed) has been put under "preventative detention" said Pakistani spokesman General Rashid Qureshi.

India has blamed two groups -- the Jaish-e-Mohammed and the Lashkar-e-Tayyaba (Army of the Righteous) -- for the attack and has demanded Islamabad act quickly to close down what it says are terrorist groups, freeze their funds and arrest their leaders.

Both groups have denied involvement in the suicide attack.

Assets frozen

Residents are leaving the volatile border areas
Residents are leaving the volatile border areas  

On Monday Pakistan announced it was freezing the assets of the second group, despite the fact that officials said India had not provided any evidence of its involvement in the attack.

"They haven't provided any evidence at all," said Pakistan's Information Secretary Anwar Mahmood.

"We have been telling them they should provide evidence to a third party ... if that neutral committee finds someone responsible, certainly we will act."

Fearing an escalation of the conflict hundreds of civilians have begun leaving their homes near the so-called Line of Control in Kashmir that divides the two countries.

Upping the stakes between the nuclear rivals over the weekend India recalled its ambassador to Islamabad and on Monday ordered the expulsion of a Pakistani diplomat.

Earlier Tuesday, two Indian army soldiers died as the two countries again exchanged heavy fire, including mortars and small arms, along their border, Indian police told CNN. The soldiers were killed in the Samba region in the northern Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. A woman and two men were wounded.

Indian and Pakistan have fought two of their three wars since independence from Britain in 1947 over the disputed Himalayan province of Kashmir.




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