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India demands Pakistan take 'strong action'

India formally demanded that Pakistan take "strong action" against the people behind the Mumbai attacks.
Image: An Indian worker sweeps the street in front of the Taj Mahal Hotel
Security forces said Monday that the 565-room Tah Mahal hotel — the scene of Saturday's final battle — had been cleared of booby traps and bodies.Pedro Ugarte / AFP - Getty Images
/ Source: The Associated Press

India demanded Pakistan take "strong action" against those behind the 60-hour siege that left at least 172 people dead, as new details emerged Monday about the gunmen and the survival training that enabled them to thwart Indian commandos.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Vishnu Prakash told reporters Pakistan's high commissioner to India was summoned and told that "elements from Pakistan" had carried out the attacks.

The commissioner was told that India "expects that strong action would be taken against those elements," Prakash said.

The only gunman captured after the attacks said he belonged to a Pakistani militant group with links to the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir, a senior police officer said in earlier comments.

He was among 10 who paralyzed the city over three days, killing at least 172 people and wounding 239 others and revealing the weakness of India's security apparatus. India's top law enforcement official resigned Sunday, bowing to growing criticism that the attackers appeared better trained, better coordinated and better armed than police.

The state of Maharashtra's top official, Vilasrao Deshmukh, offered to resign Monday, as did his deputy, R.R. Patil, who had sparked outrage by referring to the attacks as "small incidents."

Last siege site cleared
In Mumbai, teams from the FBI and Britain's Scotland Yard met with top Indian police Monday as they prepared to help collect evidence from the attacks, a police official said. At the Taj Mahal, security forces declared the 565-room landmark — the scene of Saturday's final battle — cleared of booby traps and bodies.

"We were apprehensive about more bodies being found. But this is not likely — all rooms in the Taj have been opened and checked," said Maharashtra state government spokesman Bhushan Gagrani.

The army had already cleared other sites, including the five-star Oberoi hotel and the Mumbai headquarters of an ultra-Orthodox Jewish group. Israeli emergency workers sorted through the shattered glass and splintered furniture at the Jewish center Monday to gather the victims' body parts. At one point, one of the men opened a prayer book amid the rubble and stopped to pray.

An Indian commando soldier looks out at the Taj Mahal Hotel, seen reflected in a bus window, after he and fellow commandos were given roses and thanked by residents of Mumbai for retaking control of the hotel after hours of gun battles militants in Mumbai Saturday, Nov. 29, 2008. Indian commandos killed the last remaining gunmen holed up at the luxury Mumbai hotel Saturday, ending a 60-hour rampage through India's financial capital by suspected Islamic militants that killed people and rocked the nation. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder)David Guttenfelder / AP

On Monday morning, parents dropped their children off at school and many shopkeepers opened their doors for the first time since the attacks began.

"I think this is the first Monday I am glad to be coming to work," said Donica Trivedi, 23, an employee of a public relations agency.

Others were uneasy.

"I feel totally insecure," said Rajendra Shah, 55, an insurance agent. "I'm very scared, but what can you do? I must go to work."

Escalating tensions
Mumbai's most influential Muslim cemetery rejected the corpses of the nine dead gunmen and said "Islam does not permit this sort of barbaric crime."

Joint Police Commissioner Rakesh Maria said the only known surviving gunman, Ajmal Qasab, told police he and his cohorts trained at a camp of the militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba in Pakistan.

The men, between the ages of 18 and 28, received rigorous training in close-combat techniques, hostage taking, handling of explosives, satellite navigation, and high-seas survival skills, two security officials familiar with the probe told the AP.

Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari called the attackers "non-state actors," and warned against letting their actions lead to greater enmity in the region.

"Such a tragic incident must bring opportunity rather than the defeat of a nation," Zardari said in an interview with Aaj television. "We don't think the world's great nations and countries can be held hostage by non-state actors."

Lashkar, long seen as a creation of the Pakistani intelligence service to help fight India in disputed Kashmir, was banned in Pakistan in 2002 under pressure from the U.S., a year after Washington and Britain listed it a terrorist group. It is since believed to have emerged under another name, Jamaat-ud-Dawa, though that group has denied links to the Mumbai attack.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice urged Pakistan to "follow the evidence wherever it leads."

"This is a time for complete, absolute, total transparency and cooperation and that's what we expect," Rice said in London. She said the perpetrators of attacks "must be brought to justice."

'These guys could do it next week'
As more details of the response to the attack emerged, a picture formed of woefully unprepared security forces.

"These guys could do it next week again in Mumbai and our responses would be exactly the same," said Ajai Sahni, head of the New Delhi-based Institute for Conflict Management and who has close ties to India's police and intelligence.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh promised to strengthen maritime and air security and look into creating a new federal investigative agency.

6 Americans among the deadAmong the 19 foreigners killed were six Americans. The bodies of New York , were found at the Jewish center. Their son, Moshe, who turned 2 on Saturday, was rescued by an employee Thursday as she fled the building.

Other Americans among the dead included:

  • Bentzion Chroman, an Israeli with dual U.S. citizenship who was visiting the center.
  • Rabbi Leibish Teitlebaum of Brooklyn, N.Y., who was visiting the center.
  • Alan Scherr, 58, and daughter Naomi, 13, of Virginia, who died in a cafe Wednesday night. They lived at the Synchronicity Foundation sanctuary about 15 miles southwest of Charlottesville, Va., and were among 25 foundation participants in a spiritual program in Mumbai, said Bobbie Garvey, a spokeswoman for the foundation, which promotes a form of meditation.

The dead also included Germans, Canadians, Israelis and nationals from Britain, Italy, Mexico, Japan, China, Thailand, Australia, Singapore and Mexico.

It was the country's deadliest attack since 1993 serial bombings in Mumbai killed 257 people.

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