Pakistan has FBI evidence of Mumbai links

1/01/2009 - 13:03

By Matthias Williams

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India said on Thursday the FBI had presented strong evidence to Islamabad of Pakistani links to November's militant attacks in Mumbai that killed 179 people.

India has blamed the assault on the Pakistan-based militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), which was set up by Pakistani security agencies in the 1980s to fight Indian rule in the disputed Kashmir region, but was officially banned in 2002.

Pakistan has condemned the Mumbai attacks and denied any state role, blaming "non-state actors."

"We have been told that there is some strong evidence available to FBI and they have shared it with Pakistan," Indian Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee said in an interview with the NDTV news channel.

He added that U.S. pressure on Pakistan to act on that evidence had not yielded "tangible results" so far.

India's accusation of a Pakistani link to the attack has revived old hostilities between the nuclear-armed countries and raised fears of conflict.

Mukherjee's comments came a day after the Wall Street Journal said a LeT leader, captured last month in Pakistani-controlled Kashmir, had confessed to being a main planner of the attack on India's financial hub.

The Journal, citing a Pakistani security official, said his admission was backed up by U.S. intercepts of a telephone call he had with one of the attackers during the assault.

Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari has told President George W. Bush anyone found involved in the attack would be dealt with.

Mukherjee repeated India's calls for Pakistan to hand over the perpetrators of the Mumbai attacks, saying Pakistan was obliged to do so under various international arrangements.

"(An) extradition treaty is not required to take action on these issues," he added.

Pakistan launched raids on militants on its soil in the aftermath of the attack. But, it says India has yet to provide evidence and has ruled out sending Pakistanis to India for trial.

President Bush made separate calls to Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Pakistan's Zardari on Wednesday, urging cooperation in the investigation.

Pakistan and India have fought three wars since independence from Britain in 1947 and came to the brink of a fourth after gunmen attacked the Indian parliament in December 2001.

(Editing by Katie Nguyen)

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