Pakistan Detains Dozens Allegedly Linked To Mumbai

The windows on the first floor of the Taj Mahal hotel shatter after the use of a grenade launcher in Mumbai, India, Nov. 28, 2008. (AP PHOTO)
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ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AP) -- Pakistan has arrested more than 100 people in a crackdown on groups allegedly linked to the Mumbai attacks, a top official said Thursday, adding that the information India has handed over still needs work before it can be used as evidence in court.

Despite the announcement, Interior Ministry chief Rehman Malik dodged a question on whether he was conceding the plot - which killed 164 people in India's commercial capital and raised tension between the nuclear-armed rivals - was hatched on Pakistani soil.

India says a Pakistan-based militant group, Lashkar-e-Taiba, masterminded the November attack. In the days afterward, the U.N. Security Council declared that Jamaat-ud-Dawa, a charity in Pakistan, was merely a front for the outlawed militant organization.

In a news conference, Malik said 124 leaders of several groups had been arrested, and that authorities had taken steps against 20 offices, 87 schools, two libraries, seven religious schools, and six Web sites linked to the charity. He also said authorities had shut more than a dozen relief camps operated by the charity, some of which have been alleged to be militant training grounds.

It was unclear exactly how many people remained in Pakistani custody, however, and Malik at one point indicated many may now simply be under surveillance. Some are also under house arrest.

Among those under house arrest is Hafiz Mohammed Saeed, the head of Jamaat-ud-Dawa. Also in custody are Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi and Zarrar Shah, two men India alleges planned the Mumbai attacks.

Malik repeated Islamabad's call for a joint investigation into the attacks and urged India to hand over more information to assist Pakistan's own probe.

"We are fully committed to help India in this investigation," he said. "We have to prove to the world that India and Pakistan stand together against the terrorists because they are the common enemies."

On Jan. 5, India handed Pakistan a dossier of evidence including information on interrogations, weapons and data gleaned from satellite phones used by the attackers.

India said the material proved Pakistan-based militants plotted and executed the attacks and has repeatedly insinuated that Pakistani intelligence agents were involved.

Pakistan denies that. However, it is under strong pressure from countries including the United States and Britain, whose citizens were among the dead in Mumbai, to clamp down Lashkar-e-Taiba.

Pakistan has used the group in the past as a proxy force against India in their struggle over the divided Kashmir region. Washington says the group has developed ties to al-Qaida.

British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said in Mumbai on Thursday that Pakistan, a front-line ally of the West also against the al-Qaida and the Taliban, must show "zero tolerance" for all terror networks on its soil.

Miliband plans to visit Pakistan in the coming days.

Malik said Pakistani detectives would "inquire into" the information provided by India "to try to transform it to evidence, evidence which can stand the test of any court in the world and of course our own court of law."

As other officials have from the start, he appeared to rule out handing over suspects to India, saying Pakistani laws allowed for the prosecution of citizens who committed crimes elsewhere.

India indicated for the first time that it could accept that stance.

"It would be ideal if they (Pakistan's government) can hand over the fugitives," Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee told Indian news channel Aaj Tak on Wednesday. "If that is not possible, there should at least be a fair trial of these fugitives in Pakistan."

The United States expressed some satisfaction at how the South Asian neighbors, who have fought three wars in the past and redeployed some of their troops in recent weeks, were managing the fallout from the Mumbai bloodshed and urged more cooperation.

"We would like to see more the exchange of information about the Mumbai attacks so that you can get to the bottom of exactly who was responsible, see the entire plot, and hold all responsible for their actions, and make sure that in doing so you prevent any further plots from getting to the point of execution," State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said Wednesday.


Associated Press writer Sam Dolnick in New Delhi contributed to this report.

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