updated 11/19/2006 5:03:13 AM ET 2006-11-19T10:03:13

India on Sunday successfully test-fired a nuclear-capable missile with a range of up to 180 miles, a defense ministry official said.

The Prithvi missile was fired into the Bay of Bengal from a test range in Chandipur in the eastern state of Orissa, the official said on condition of anonymity as he is not allowed to reveal his identity under ministry rules.

India’s Prithvi test comes three days after rival Pakistan carried out a similar test of its nuclear-capable Ghauri missile, also known as the Hatf 5.

The official described Sunday’s test as “routine” and “part of the country’s air defense exercises,” the Press Trust of India news agency quoted an unnamed official as saying.

India routinely test-fires missiles it is developing for military use, as does Pakistan. When either country tests larger missiles they normally inform the other before the launch.

On Saturday, district authorities in Chandipur evacuated about 2,750 villagers living near the missile testing range to two large shelters about 1 mile away, PTI said.

Sunday’s test also comes days after longtime nuclear rivals India and Pakistan concluded a crucial round of peace talks in New Delhi aimed at resolving their differences, including the thorny issue of their territorial dispute over the Himalayan region of Kashmir.

The two countries have fought three wars — two of them over Kashmir— since independence from Britain in 1947.

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