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30 recruits trained by terror group, India says

MUMBAI, India — Police said Tuesday that the 10 men who carried out the terrorist attacks here in November were among 30 recruits selected for suicide missions and that the whereabouts of the other 20 were unknown.

It was the first time the Indian police disclosed the larger number of recruits, all of whom belonged to the Pakistani militant organization Lashkar-e-Taiba. The police said there was no reason to believe that the other 20 were in India, but expressed concern about that possibility.

"Another 20 were ready to die," Deven Bharti, a Mumbai police deputy commissioner, said in an interview. "This is the very disturbing part of it."

The Indian police have consistently maintained that only 10 gunmen participated in the attacks in Mumbai last month that left 171 people dead.

Bharti said the information about the other 20 recruits came from the sole surviving attacker, Mohammed Ajmal Kasab, who was arrested during the attacks.

Kasab and his nine fellow attackers were trained and kept sequestered for three months, the deputy commissioner said. They were then divided into two-man teams, each team assigned a different target in Mumbai to attack.

They never saw the other 20 trainees again, Bharti said, according to the information provided by Kasab.

Pakistan for the first time officially confirmed that it had staged a series of raids and arrested the suspected operational commander and other members of Lashkar-e-Taiba — Army of the Pure — which India and the U.S. accuse of staging the attacks.

Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, however, said Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi and other Lashkar-e-Taiba militants won't be extradited, and he warned that Pakistan is "fully prepared" to defend itself should India retaliate militarily.

"They are Pakistani citizens and will be dealt with according to the law of the land," Qureshi said in the eastern city of Multan. "No arrested Pakistani will be handed over to India. The question doesn't even arise."

In Washington, a senior State Department official said raids on the Lashkar-e-Taiba were the start of a "credible effort" by Pakistan's government to crack down on those responsible for the Mumbai assault.

30 recruits trained by terror group, India says 12/09/08 [Last modified: Thursday, November 4, 2010 11:45am]
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