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Mumbai attack suspect retracts confession

NEW DELHI — The man accused of being the lone surviving gunman from the November 2008 terror attack in Mumbai retracted his confession Friday, saying he was forced by police to sign the statement and that he was in jail at the time of the assault.

Ajmal Amir Kasab, 21, a Pakistani citizen who says he came to India to work in Bollywood, the Indian film industry, is charged with 86 offenses, including murder, and waging war against India after militants killed 166 people in a shooting spree across South Asia's financial hub. The bodies of the seven militants were recovered.

An image released by Indian officials that showed Kasab, smiling and machine gun in hand at Mumbai's main railway station, has come to epitomize the ruthless nature of the attack.

Ujjwal Nikam, the prosecutor in the case, told reporters that Kasab's turnaround would not affect the case, which has seen more than 600 prosecution witnesses testify.

"He now says there was a similar-looking person involved in the shooting," Nikam said.

Kasab told the court Friday that David Coleman Headley, the man arrested by the FBI in Chicago and charged with helping plan the 2008 attack, visited him in a Mumbai jail after his arrest. The judge stopped Kasab from testifying any further on this issue, ruling that it wasn't pertinent to the case.

Headley, a U.S. citizen of Pakistani descent, was arrested two months ago. According to U.S. court documents, he visited Mumbai five times in the 22 months before July 2008, scouting locations and entry points subsequently key to the 60-hour attack.

Mumbai attack suspect retracts confession 12/18/09 [Last modified: Friday, December 18, 2009 10:38pm]

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