Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Bombs found in Mumbai train station a week later


Bombs found in Mumbai train station a week later
By RAMOLA TALWAR BADAM

MUMBAI, India (AP) — Police found two bombs at Mumbai's main train station nearly a week after they were left there by gunmen behind the attacks_ in a stunning new example of the botched security that has become a major issue in India since the deadly three-day siege.

The discovery Wednesday came as Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee said India is "determined to act decisively" following the attacks, saying the evidence was clear the gunmen came from Pakistan and their handlers are still there.

His words, the strongest yet from the government, came as thousands of Indians — many calling for war with Pakistan — held a vigil in Mumbai to mark one week since the start of the rampage that killed 171 people.

While searching through a mound of about 150 bags, which police believed were left by the dozens of victims in the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus station, an officer found a suspicious-looking bag and called the bomb squad, said Assistant Commissioner of Police Bapu Domre. Inside were two 8.8-pound (4-kilogram) bombs, which were taken away and safely detonated, he said.

After the attacks, police found unexploded bombs at several of the sites, including two luxury hotels and a Jewish center.

It was not immediately clear why the bags at the station were not examined earlier. The station, which serves hundreds of thousands of commuters, was declared safe and reopened hours after the attack.

The discovery has added to increasing accusations that India's security forces missed warnings and bungled its response to the Nov. 26-29 attacks.

Indian navy chief Sureesh Mehta has called the response to the attacks "a systemic failurem." The country's top law enforcement official has resigned amid criticism that the 10 gunmen appeared better coordinated and better armed than police in Mumbai.

Mukherjee on Wednesday adopted a more strident tone against longtime rival Pakistan.

"There is no doubt the terrorist attacks in Mumbai were perpetrated by individuals who came from Pakistan and whose controllers are in Pakistan," Mukherjee said after a meeting with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

"The government of India is determined to act decisively to protect Indian territorial integrity and the right of our citizens to a peaceful life, with all the means at our disposal," he said, a turnaround from earlier statements that ruled out military action.

Rice urged Pakistan to act "transparently, urgently and fully," saying Islamabad has a "special responsibility" to cooperate with the investigation. She noted that with six Americans killed in the attacks, the U.S. was cooperating closely with India.

Rice's visited was part of U.S. effort to defuse tensions in the region and pressure Pakistan to share more intelligence and root out suspected terrorists believed hiding in the country.

Meanwhile, Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was meeting civilian and military officials of both India and Pakistan during the trip, a senior defense official said Wednesday on condition of anonymity.

Many Indians wanted more than just harsh words.

At the candlelight gathering in Mumbai, many called for war.

"India should attack Pakistan right away," said Sandeep Ambili, 27, who works for a shipping company.

"Something has to be done. Pakistan has been attacking my country for a long time," said another protester, Rajat Sehgal. "If it means me going to war, I don't mind."

Others chanted anti-Pakistan slogans and held banners reading: "Enough is enough, go for war."

Similar rallies were held in cities across India.

Indian Defense Minister A.K. Antony summoned the army, navy and air force chiefs to warn them to be prepared for terrorist attacks from the air and the sea in the wake of growing criticism about slack security.

Antony told the military chiefs they needed to improve intelligence coordination so that security forces can act on all credible threats, according to a statement.

Defense Ministry spokesman Sitanshu Kar said the moves were a precaution and not based on concrete intelligence.

Early Thursday, media reports said airports were put on high alert following intelligence warnings that terrorists were planning attacks on an airport in coming days.

The Press Trust of India news agency, quoting unidentified sources, said "specific" information regarding planned attacks had been received. Further details were not immediately available.

After a 2001 militant attack on India's parliament, also blamed on elements in Pakistan, the two neighbors posted nearly 1 million soldiers along their border in a yearlong standoff. The two nations have fought three wars since independence from Britain in 1947, but neither government wants a fourth. Both now have nuclear weapons.

India has called on Pakistan to turn over 20 people who are "fugitives of Indian law" and wanted for questioning, but Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari said the suspects would be tried in Pakistan if there is evidence of wrongdoing.

Much of the evidence that Pakistanis were behind the attack comes from the interrogation of the surviving gunman, who told police that he and the other nine attackers had trained for months in camps in Pakistan operated by the banned militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba.

Ajmal Amir Kasab, 21, told investigators his recruiters promised to pay his family from an impoverished village Pakistan's Punjab region $1,250 when he became a martyr.

Kasab said he and the other gunmen were "hand-picked" for the mission and trained for more than a year by Lashkar-e-Taiba, based in Kashmir, according to two senior officials involved in the investigation. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to media about the investigation.

Associated Press writers Erika Kinetz and Ravi Nessman in Mumbai and Ashok Sharma, Jeremiah Marquez and Anne Gearan in New Delhi contributed to this report.


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