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Indiablamesterrorgroup

Mumbai residents walk with candles Sunday near the Oberoi hotel, protesting against the terror attacks last week in the city. “There is a feeling among the middle class that our politicians have failed us miserably,” said Mahesh Rangarajan, a political analyst and columnist.

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Mumbai residents walk with candles Sunday near the Oberoi hotel, protesting against the terror attacks last week in the city. “There is a feeling among the middle class that our politicians have failed us miserably,” said Mahesh Rangarajan, a political analyst and columnist.

MUMBAI, India — India's top domestic security official resigned in disgrace on Sunday for the failure to thwart or quickly contain the horrific terrorist attacks in Mumbai last week, and the government announced a raft of measures to bolster antiterrorism efforts.

It also struggled to calibrate a response to what it views as Pakistani complicity.

The only gunman captured in the siege said he belonged to a Pakistani militant group with links to the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir, a senior police officer said Sunday.

The announcement blaming militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba threatened to escalate tensions between India and Pakistan. However, Indian officials have been cautious about accusing Pakistan's government of complicity.

The Bush administration, hoping to help defuse the possibility of new hostilities, announced it was sending Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to India this week "to stand in solidarity with the people of India as we all work together to hold these extremists accountable."

The three-day siege of Mumbai, the country's financial capital, ended Saturday with a death toll of at least 172, hundreds wounded and two of Mumbai's famous five-star hotels, the Taj Mahal Palace & Tower and the Oberoi, where most of the mayhem took place, partly in ruins. At least 28 of the dead were foreigners, including at least six Americans and eight Israelis. Others were Germans, Canadians and nationals from Britain, Italy, Japan, China, Thailand, Australia and Singapore.

Despite repeated assertions by Pakistan's government that it bore no responsibility, the attacks have raised the pitch of India-Pakistan tensions to their most dangerous level in years.

On Sunday, a senior government official said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's administration would have to consider a range of measures to show toughness toward Pakistan.

The Indian government's options, officials and analysts said, include everything from suspending peace talks, which have proceeded at a snail's pace for five years, suspending diplomatic relations altogether and striking camps across the border that New Delhi suspects of training terrorists.

While Indian officials insisted publicly that the mayhem was carried out by only 10 heavily armed men, there were new indications that others had been involved and that the attackers had at least some accomplices prepositioned on the ground.

The government has not allowed any outside access to the captive, who has identified himself as Ajmal Amir Qasab, a Pakistani citizen who was wounded in the leg and is getting medical treatment at a military hospital in southern Mumbai.

An officer of the Anti-Terror Squad branch in Mumbai, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said squad investigators believed there were accomplices on the ground who might have prepositioned weapons at the hotels. The names and telephone numbers of five Mumbai residents were found among the mobile phones and wallets of the attackers, he said.

He also confirmed reports in the Indian news media that a recovered satellite phone used by the attackers had called a phone number in the Pakistani city of Karachi throughout the assault.

Singh said discussions were under way to establish a federal agency of investigation to streamline the work of state and national agencies and to fortify maritime and air security. The police have said the attackers came by boat. The Indian government had been warned as far back as March 2007 of infiltration by sea.

The security official who resigned, Shivraj Patil, the home minister, became the first senior official to leave after the attacks.

"Clearly, much more needs to be done," Singh said in a written statement, "and we are determined to take all necessary measures to overhaul the system."

fast facts

What's Lashkar-e-Taiba?

Lashkar-e-Taiba is a Pakistani terror group that has operated mainly in Kashmir. It is reported to be linked to al-Qaida. Long seen as a creation of the Pakistani intelligence service to help fight India in disputed Kashmir, the group was banned in Pakistan in 2002 under pressure from the United States. It is since believed to have emerged under another name, Jamaat-ud-Dawa, though that group has denied links to the Mumbai attack.

Associated Press

Indiablamesterrorgroup 11/30/08 [Last modified: Monday, December 1, 2008 5:13pm]
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