Wednesday, December 18, 2002, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Army tank catches fire

Jammu, December 17
An Army tank, carrying explosives, caught fire while being transported on a trailor as part of a convoy of vehicles, including ammunition trucks, triggering a series of blasts here, defence source said today.

The tank, loaded on a trailor and being driven by a heavy Army vehicle, caught fire when its diesel tank burst late last night on a culvert near Bakshi Nagar-Shakti Nagar and several explosives inside the tank went off with a deafening sound, triggering panic in the area. The flames completely engulfed the tank which was damaged totally.

The driver of the vehicle detached it from the trailor and parked it at a safe place. The entire area have been cordoned off by the police and people from adjoining areas were evacuated immediately to safer places, the sources said, adding that there was no loss of life or damage to property.

Union Minister of State for Defence Chaman Lal Gupta ruled out any sabotage.

An Army officer on the site told reporters that the explosions might have been caused either by grenades or batteries kept in the tank.

A court of inquiry is being ordered into the incident, a defence spokesman said. The tank would be removed from the site only after experts give clearance, he added.

Fire brigade men fought for hours till this morning to bring the blaze under control. The Army convoy was on its way to Akhnoor. Traffic on the Jammu-Akhnoor road has been diverted. PTI



Pak balloon lands in Kulu

Shimla, December 17
A balloon bearing pro-Pakistani slogans descended on Patlikul in Kulu district.

The police took the six-feet-long and one-foot wide balloon into their possession after it landed early yesterday, Kulu district police chief N. Venugopal said today.

The balloon, made in Sialkot, carried a piece of paper bearing an advertisement of a tailor and pro-Pakistan slogans written in Urdu. It was being examined to find out any local connection, he said.

It is believed that the balloon may have been launched in Pakistan on Id-ul-Fitr on December 6 and it crossed into the Indian territory undetected due to its height.

Similar balloons from Pakistan have been recovered from Kangra district and Banjar area of Kulu district in the past, the SP said. UNI


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