Pakistan says it shot down Indian drone near disputed border

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - The Pakistani military said it shot down an Indian spy drone on Wednesday in Kashmir, in a new sign of the decades-old tension between the nuclear-armed rivals in the disputed region.

Industry experts said the small, unarmed model was sold commercially for aerial filming and would contain no secret military technology.

“An Indian spy drone was shot down by Pakistani troops which intruded into Pakistan along (the Line of Control) near Bhimber today. The spy drone is used for aerial photography,” a statement from the Pakistani military said.

The Indian military was not available for comment.

Bhimber is in Kashmir, the Himalayan region claimed by both Pakistan and India. The two sides regularly exchange fire along Kashmir’s heavily-militarized Line of Control.

A photo supplied by the Pakistani military appeared to show a Chinese-made DJI Phantom 3, said Huw Williams, the Unmanned Systems Editor at IHS Jane’s International Defence Review.

“Due to its limited operating range - about two km - if the Indian military is using the system it would most likely be for close reconnaissance or security work,” Williams said.

“Our Middle East editor believes that Islamic State are using similar systems.”

Pakistan is plagued by a Taliban insurgency that has killed hundreds of thousands of civilians. It has fought three wars against India since the two nations became separate in 1947.

Since 2004, the United States has conducted 419 drone strikes in Pakistan, targeting suspected members of the Taliban and al Qaeda. The missiles have killed thousands of suspected militants and hundreds of civilians, according to media reports collated by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism.

Pakistan often protests that the U.S. strikes are an infringement of its national sovereignty and has been pushing for its own lethal drones.

In March, the Pakistani military announced it had test-fired its own drone equipped with a laser-guided missile. Analysts said the video showed a drone similar to models produced by Pakistan’s close ally China.

Reporting by Katharine Houreld; editing by Andrew Roche