Pakistan navy says it stopped Indian sub from entering its waters

It was the first such incident since 2016, when Pakistan said it had "pushed" an Indian submarine away from Pakistani waters. PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM TWITTER/PTV NEWS

KARACHI (AFP) - Pakistan has stopped an Indian submarine from entering its waters, the navy said on Tuesday (March 5), as tensions continue to run high between the nuclear-armed foes.

The development came days after a rare aerial dogfight between India and Pakistan over the disputed territory of Kashmir ignited fears of an all-out conflict, with world powers rushing to urge restraint.

"The Pakistan navy stopped an Indian submarine from entering our territorial waters," a naval spokesman said.

He added "the Indian submarine was not targeted, in line with the government's policy of maintaining peace".

It was the first such incident since 2016, when Pakistan said it had "pushed" an Indian submarine away from its waters.

The navy later said the submarine was detected on Monday within Pakistan's maritime zone, or 200 nautical mile (370km) exclusive economic zone, but did not give further details on the location.

It also released what it said was video of the submarine, with the grainy black and white footage showing only what appeared to be a periscope above water.

The timestamp at the beginning of the video clip read 8.35pm on Monday.

India said its navy remained "deployed as necessary".

"Over the past several days we have witnessed Pakistan indulging in false propoganda," an Indian Navy spokesman tweeted on Tuesday.

An Indian government source also dismissed the video, telling AFP: "Why would a submarine in Pakistani waters have its periscope up?"

Tensions between the arch-rivals have escalated significantly over recent days, after a suicide bombing in Indian-administered Kashmir killed 40 Indian paramilitaries.

A militant group based in Pakistan claimed responsibility for the Feb 14 blast, and 12 days later Indian jets bombed what New Delhi called a terrorist training camp deep inside Pakistan.

Pakistan has denied any damage or casualties, and independent reporting has shown the strikes hit a heavily forested area with little infrastructure nearby.

Residents have said just one person was injured.

The next day Pakistani aircraft entered Indian airspace and the two nations' jets engaged in aerial dogfights, with at least one Indian aircraft shot down and its pilot captured by Pakistan.

The pilot was handed back to India last Friday in what Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan called a "peace gesture".

Both sides also claimed a second plane had been shot down, but they have disputed whose plane it was and what happened to the pilot.

Pakistani and Indian soldiers have continued to fire over the Line of Control - the de-facto border dividing Kashmir - in the days since, killing several civilians on both sides.

Kashmir has been divided between India and Pakistan since the end of British colonial rule in 1947.

Both claim the Himalayan territory in full and have fought two wars over it.

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