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India shows off military might, culture in parade

India has shown off its military might and cultural diversity in a colorful Republic Day parade. French President Francois Hollande was the guest of honor in a show of solidarity for the Paris terror attacks.

Modern tanks and missile systems alongside desert camel units and daredevil stuntwomen paraded down a central avenue near the presidential palace in New Delhi on Tuesday to celebrate modern India's adoption of a constitution in 1950, amid tight security over concern terror could strike.

Hollande, on a three-day state visit to India, was the guest of honor sitting alongside President Pranab Mukherjee and Premier Narendra Modi. The two countries signed over

a dozen agreements

during the visit, including one on counter-terrorism cooperation.

However, expectations that the two sides would reach a final deal on the

purchase 36 Rafale fighter jets

fell short, but officials said it would likely be wrapped up soon after technical details and pricing negotiations were completed.

Leading up to the parade, security forces had warned of a possible "Islamic State" terror attack and a number of arrests were made over the past week in security operations. More than 50,000 police army and paramilitary personnel were deployed around the capital on Tuesday.

The colorful parade featured a number of highlights, including the popular mounted camels of the desert border security force alongside mustachioed border guards.

After a 26 year absence, the Indian army's dog squad returned to the parade wearing striped coats. The Labradors and German Shepherds are mostly used in the

Kashmir region to detect explosives and landmines

or help in tracking avalanches.

In another tradition, motorbike stunt riders performed their magic by forming a human pyramid. For the first time, female stunt riders performed, highlighting the role of women in the military.

A French infantry contingent also joined the celebration, the first time a foreign force has marched in the parade.

The air force showed off its skills and new hardware, including Russian and US-made aircraft.

cw/jil (AFP, AP, dpa)

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