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India shoots down satellite, becoming major space power, PM Modi says

A man watches Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's address to the nation on a local news channel in New Delhi, India, March 27, 2019. (AFP Photo)

India on Wednesday destroyed a low-orbiting satellite in a missile test that puts the country in the space "super league", Prime Minister Narendra Modi said.

India became the fourth country after the United States, Russia and China to have carried out the feat.

"A while ago our scientists shot down a live satellte at a low-earth orbit," Modi said in a rare televised address to the nation. "This is a proud moment for India," he added.

"India has registered its name in the list of space superpowers. Until now, only three countries had achieved this feat."

The satellite was in orbit at 300 kilometers (185 miles) when it was destroyed.

Modi said the mission was peaceful and not designed to create "an atmosphere of war," adding it was "not directed against any country."

The announcement comes ahead of a national election in which Modi is seeking a second term in office.

Voting starts April 11 and will last nearly six weeks, with close to 900 million Indians eligible to vote in the world's largest election.

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