Author Topic: The US warned India about a possible threat at least a month before last week's  (Read 1230 times)

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The US warned India about a possible threat at least a month before last week's Mumbai attacks, US media have quoted unnamed officials as saying.

One senior US official also told the BBC there were "strong indications" that the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Toiba group was behind the carnage.

Pakistan, which has denied having any involvement, has offered India a joint investigation team.

At least 188 people are now known to have died in the coordinated attacks.

One US official said that India had been told of an apparent plot to launch an attack on Mumbai from the sea, Associated Press news agency reported.

The reports came as India's navy chief said there had been "systemic failures" in the country's security and intelligence services.

Seaborne attack

Indian officials have repeatedly said there is evidence that the militants behind the attacks had Pakistani links.

One of the gunmen, named as Azam Amir Qasab, survived and is in police custody. Police have said he is "certainly" from Pakistan.

The Indian media have said he is linked to the Kashmiri militant group, Lashkar-e-Toiba, or Army of the Pure, but the group has denied responsibility.

An Indian official appeared to confirm the US media reports that there was a known threat to at least some of the locations targeted, including the Taj Mahal Palace hotel.

Mumbai police chief Hassan Gafoor told a news conference on Tuesday that security authorities had "had an alert that hotels like Taj could be exposed to such danger".

ABC News quoted Indian officials as saying that after receiving the US warning, they also intercepted a satellite phone message on 18 November warning of a seaborne attack on Mumbai.

The city had been on high alert but security measures at the attacked hotels had recently been relaxed, the network reported.

ABC also reported that the Indian authorities had seized a mobile phone SIM card belonging to the attackers, which they said had led to a "treasure trove" of contacts and information.

'Resolve'

The allegations from the US are likely to add to the growing sense of public anger that the attacks, which left more than 200 people injured, were not prevented.

India's home minister and the chief and deputy chief ministers of Maharashtra state have all resigned amid criticism of the government's handling of the crisis.

The navy chief, Adm Suresh Mehta, said on Tuesday security was "a serious matter" and failures needed to be "taken stock of", but he added that the government's response was "going to be quite adequate".

India's new home minister, Palaniappan Chidambaram, has said he will respond to the crisis "with determination and resolve".

Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee said a military response was not under consideration but that if Pakistan did not act the bilateral peace process would be at risk.

India has also asked Islamabad to hand over 20 fugitives from Indian law it believes are hiding in Pakistan. It is not clear what, if any, links those on the list had to the Mumbai attacks.

Indian media reports say the names include alleged underworld don Dawood Ibrahim, wanted in connection with bombings in Mumbai in 1993, and Muslim cleric Maulana Masood Azhar who was freed from jail in India in exchange for passengers on a hijacked plane in 1999.

Islamabad has not responded directly to the request but on Tuesday offered India a joint investigation into the attacks.

It warned against attempts to inflame tensions in the region.

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will visit India on Wednesday and the BBC's Sanjoy Majumder in Delhi says India will present its case against Pakistan and try to persuade Washington to apply diplomatic pressure on Islamabad to comply with its demands.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/7761165.stm
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