x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Pakistan admits Mumbai terror link

The Mumbai attacks last November that killed 165 people were partly planned in Pakistan, a top-level Islamabad official admits for the first time.

The Taj Mahal Hotel was one of several locations in Mumbai targeted by the gunmen during the seige.
The Taj Mahal Hotel was one of several locations in Mumbai targeted by the gunmen during the seige.

ISLAMABAD // The Mumbai attacks that killed 165 people last November were partly planned in Pakistan, a top-level Islamabad official admitted today for the first time. New Delhi has blamed the bloody 60-hour siege on the banned Pakistan-based militant group Lashkar-i-Taiba and handed over information last month that Islamabad has been using to investigate the attacks. "The incident happened in India and part of the conspiracy was hatched in Pakistan," the Pakistani interior ministry chief Rehman Malik said.

It is the first time a senior official in Islamabad has admitted that any planning took place in the country. Pakistan has lodged a "first information report" with police and six people are in custody in connection with the attacks, Mr Malik added. "I want to show all of you, I want to show our nation, I want to show the international community, I want to show all those who have been a victim of terrorism, that we mean business," he said.

But Mr Malik also named other countries, where he said the plotters had made payment transfers or where equipment used in the attacks was registered. For example, he said, US$238 (Dh874) was transferred from Spain to acquire a domain name, used for communication over the internet, that was registered in Houston, Texas. A Pakistani man who was living in Barcelona was repatriated and arrested in connection with the payment, Mr Malik said.

Another domain name used by the attackers was registered in Russia, and a satellite phone was registered in a Middle Eastern country, which he declined to name. Mr Malik said "money was paid in Italy," but it was not immediately clear how much he was referring to or what the money was used for. Earlier this week, Pakistan said its investigators needed more information to complete its probe into the Nov 26 to 29 siege, when 10 gunmen attacked a series of high-profile targets in the Indian financial capital.

India then accused Islamabad of delaying its investigation. The attacks have led to a sharp spike in tensions between the nuclear-armed neighbours who have fought three wars since independence in 1947. Last Thursday, the Indian foreign secretary, Shivshankar Menon, directly accused Pakistan's powerful military spy agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence, of involvement in the attacks - a charge Islamabad vigorously denied.

Mr Malik said further information Islamabad had requested from India included DNA samples of the gunmen - nine of whom were shot dead, and one a Pakistani who is currently in Indian custody - and their full names. *AFP