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Mon 1 Dec 2008 10:57 AM

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Mumbai attackers all Pakistani - India

Deputy interior minister stops short of blaming government in Islamabad for last week's carnage.

The Mumbai attackers were all from Pakistan, India's deputy interior minister said on Monday, stopping short of blaming the government in Islamabad for last week's carnage which left more than 170 dead.

As the US announced secretary of state Condoleezza Rice would head to India in a show of "solidarity", the comments from deputy home minister Shakeel Ahmad were the strongest yet pointing a finger of blame across the border.

India and Pakistan, both armed with nuclear weapons, have fought three wars and nearly came to a fourth over a previous attack on Indian soil, and there have been fears the latest bloodshed could deepen tensions between them.

"We are not saying that it is sponsored by the Pakistan government," deputy home minister Shakeel Ahmad told British broadcaster the BBC, adding that Pakistani soil was nevertheless being used for "anti-India" activities.

"The terrorists who have been killed in these encounters in Mumbai in the last few days were of Pakistani origin," Ahmad said, as well as the lone gunman arrested after the stunning coordinated attacks in India's financial capital.

With a sense of normalcy only slowly returning to the sprawling city, the focus has turned to who might be responsible for the brazen grenade and gun assault on two luxury hotels, a hospital, religious centre and other sites.

Suspicion has fallen on Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba, which is fighting Indian control of the disputed Kashmir and was behind the 2001 attack on the Indian parliament in New Delhi which pushed the neighbours to war.

According to Indian media reports Monday citing unnamed sources, Indian government officials feel that Pakistan has not fully enforced its official ban on the group.

But Pakistan has denied any involvement in the latest bloodshed, which threatens to derail a slow-moving peace process launched in 2004, and Pakistan president Asif Ali Zardari has urged India not to "over-react"

Pakistan has repeatedly underlined that it is fighting its own battle against Islamist insurgents, who have taken their bloody campaign to the heart of the Pakistan capital, and stressed the two nations have a common enemy.

"Even if the militants are linked to Lashkar-e-Taiba, who do you think we are fighting?" Zardari told Monday's Financial Times, noting that Pakistan was battling a welter of militant groups along its border with Afghanistan.

"The architects of this calamity in Mumbai have managed to raise a threat on our other border," the president said, referring to the frontier with India.

That comment suggested the Mumbai attacks might prompt Pakistan to consider pulling troops away from the fight against Al Qaeda and the Taliban along the Afghan border - a development the United States would surely wish to avoid.

The White House and US state department announced that Rice would arrive in New Delhi on Wednesday to show solidarity with India.

"It is a fact, a sad fact, that India has now experienced this level of terror," state department spokesman Sean McCormack said.

"[Rice] and others in the government will be having discussions going forward about cooperating on the war on terror," he said. "Those will go at the pace with whatever the Indian government is comfortable with."

At least 172 people were killed and almost 300 were wounded in the 60-hour assault that began on Wednesday evening. A Jewish centre was among the targets, and eyewitnesses said some attackers singled out Britons and Americans.

India's intelligence and security agencies have come under heavy criticism for the incident, and home minister Shivraj Patil resigned Sunday to take what he said was "moral responsibility" over the carnage.

But local media reports said the resignation of the country's influential national security adviser, M.K. Narayanan, had not been accepted.

Tension between India and Pakistan date to the post-independence partition of India in 1947 that created the Islamic state of Pakistan and led to horrific bloodletting between Muslims and Hindus.

India has also had its share of homegrown unrest, from Muslims to Maoists to Hindu extremists, and Indian officials have repeatedly declined to blame Pakistan directly for the Mumbai attacks.

"We have had terrorist attacks before... but this attack was different," prime minister Manmohan Singh said on Sunday. "They came with the explicit aim of killing large numbers of innocent civilians, including foreign visitors."

About 30 foreigners were killed including five Americans, two French, two Australians and two Canadians.

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Suresh 11 years ago

It should be clear to anyone with any commonsense that another war between India and Pakistan would be disastrous for both countries and precisely what the terrorists want. As an Indian and a Hindu I personally do not believe that the current regime in Pakistan is behind these attacks. However I would not put it beyond some rogue elements in Pakistan's army who have never forgiven India for the humiliating defeat they suffered during the 1971 war. Desire for revenge is a great motivator. It is also a well documented fact that the previous military regime in Pakistan supported incursions in to India by para military forces , the most famous being in Kargil and that they turned a blind eye towards militant outfits running training camps for mujahedeen who were trained, financed , armed and pushed in to India to commit acts of terror. The current regime in Pakistan has been saying the right things so far and they must now walk their talk by shutting down these camps and taking action against Lashkar e Tayyeba and Jaish e Mohammed . If this is not done then the Hawks in India will get more strident in their demand for "retaliation" , and that can only have disastrous consequences.

Suresh 11 years ago

It should be clear to anyone with any commonsense that another war between India and Pakistan would be disastrous for both countries and precisely what the terrorists want. As an Indian and a Hindu I personally do not believe that the current regime in Pakistan is behind these attacks. However I would not put it beyond some rogue elements in Pakistan's army who have never forgiven India for the humiliating defeat they suffered during the 1971 war. Desire for revenge is a great motivator. It is also a well documented fact that the previous military regime in Pakistan supported incursions in to India by para military forces , the most famous being in Kargil and that they turned a blind eye towards militant outfits running training camps for mujahedeen who were trained, financed , armed and pushed in to India to commit acts of terror. The current regime in Pakistan has been saying the right things so far and they must now walk their talk by shutting down these camps and taking action against Lashkar e Tayyeba and Jaish e Mohammed . If this is not done then the Hawks in India will get more strident in their demand for "retaliation" , and that can only have disastrous consequences.