Leftover explosives found in Mumbai train station

By: AP
By: AP

NEW DELHI (AP) -- Police on Wednesday discovered leftover explosives hidden in a bag in Mumbai's main train station - a stunning new example of botched security after the deadly rampage that left the government open to accusations it missed warnings and bungled its response.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Islamabad has a "special responsibility" to cooperate with the investigation into the attacks, which Indian and U.S. officials have blamed on militant groups based in Pakistan.

During a joint press conference with Rice, Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee said, "there is no doubt the terrorist attacks in Mumbai were perpetrated by individuals who came from Pakistan and whose controllers are in Pakistan."

India's defense minister summoned the army, navy and air force chiefs to warn them to be prepared for terror attacks from the air and the sea in the wake of growing criticism about slack security.

The bomb squad defused the two four-kilogram (8-pound) bombs, said Assistant Commissioner of Police Bapu Domre, but it was not immediately clear why the bombs hadn't been found earlier.

The suspected militants sprayed Chhatrapati Shivaji train station with gunfire last Wednesday night, but authorities reopened it and declared it safe Thursday morning. The crowds of commuters quickly returned the station, one of the country's busiest, and it has been serving millions of passengers in the days since.

Rice, in New Delhi as part of a U.S. effort to ease tensions in the region following the attacks, said the United States expects all "responsible governments" to help with the investigation and "Pakistan has a special responsibility to do so and to do so transparently, urgently and fully."

"The responsibility of the Pakistani government should be one of cooperation and of action," she said.

Mukherjee vowed to bring the suspected Muslim militants to justice but said "what action will be taken by (the Indian) government will depend on the response that we have from the Pakistan authorities."

Defense Minister A.K. Antony told his military chiefs that they needed to improve intelligence coordination so that security forces can act on all credible threats, according to a ministry statement.

The statement said Antony discussed beefing up maritime security and "reviewed in detail the preparedness against any possible terror threats from air."

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

"We saw how they came through the sea routes," Kar said. "We are not ruling out any threats. It's a preventive measure."

Authorities believe the gunmen responsible for last week's attacks reached Mumbai by boat after launching from Karachi, Pakistan.

Indian and U.S. officials have blamed Pakistani-based groups for the attacks and have pressured Islamabad to cooperate in the investigation.

"I have said that Pakistan needs to act with resolve and urgency, and cooperate fully and transparently," Rice said during a press conference in New Delhi. "I know too this is a time when cooperation of all parties who have any information is really required."

Rice said it was too early to say who was responsible for the attack, but: "Whether there is a direct al-Qaida hand or not, this is clearly the kind of terror in which al-Qaida participates."

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

"At the moment, these are just names of individuals - no proof and no investigation," he said Tuesday in an interview with CNN's Larry King. "If we had the proof, we would try them in our courts and we would try them in our land and we would sentence them."

A week after the attacks, more details of intelligence failures began to emerge, drawing further criticism to authorities already blamed for moving slowly and ineptly during the 60-hour siege carried out by 10 gunmen.

Navy chief Sureesh Mehta earlier called India's failure to act on multiple warnings "a systemic failure."

India had received a warning from the United States that militants were plotting a waterborne assault on Mumbai, according to a U.S. official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of intelligence information.

India's foreign intelligence agency also had warnings as recently as September that Pakistan-based terrorists were plotting attacks on Mumbai, according to a government intelligence official familiar with the matter.

The information, intercepted from telephone conversations apparently coming out of Pakistan, indicated that hotels might be targeted but did not specify which ones, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk publicly about the details.

Authorities said Tuesday that ex-Pakistani army officers trained the gunmen behind the attacks - some for up to 18 months.

India has stepped up the pressure on its neighbor after interrogating the only surviving attacker, who told police that he and the other nine gunmen had trained for months in camps in Pakistan operated by the banned Pakistani militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba.

Ajmal Qasab told police his group trained for about six months in Lashkar camps in Pakistan, learning close-combat techniques, hostage-taking, handling of explosives, satellite navigation.

The training was "meticulous and rigorous," said a security official who spoke on the customary condition of anonymity.

The official said the gunmen sailed from Karachi in a Lashkar vessel that brought them to the waters near an Indian vessel they hijacked, the MV Kuber.

They killed three crew members and dumped their bodies in high seas, but kept the captain alive so that he could guide them into Mumbai.

The captain was killed some three nautical miles off Mumbai's coast, the official said.

Police were questioning the owner of the MV Kuber, from which investigators recovered a global positioning system that belonged to the attackers.

American officials said there is reason to suspect that the terror attacks were the work of a group at least partly based in Pakistan, although they've stopped short of mentioning Lashkar by name.

U.S. National Intelligence Director Mike McConnell said Tuesday the same group that carried out last week's attack is believed to be behind the Mumbai train bombings that killed more than 200 people two years ago.

While he didn't identify the group, the Indian government has attributed the 2006 attack to Lashkar and the Students Islamic Movement of India.

Last week's attacks against hotels, a restaurant and other sites across this sprawling city killed 171 people, including 26 foreigners, officials said Wednesday. The death toll was revised down from 172 after authorities realized they had counted a victim twice.

"More bodies being found is ruled out," Maharashtra state government spokesman Bhushan Gagrani said.


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