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NEW DELHI Nov 28 Three of the militants who
attacked India's financial capital have confessed they are
members of the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba group, the Hindu
newspaper reported on Friday.
Indian newspapers squarely blamed Lashkar-e-Taiba, one of
the largest Islamist militant groups in South Asia, for the
attacks that killed more than 100 people and wounded more than
300 which began late on Wednesday.
Indian commandos were still battling to flush out militants
in several pockets on Friday, including two luxury hotels.
Lashkar-e-Taiba denied on Thursday it had any role in the
attacks, which also targeted a popular cafe, a Jewish centre
and the city's main railway.
But Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has said the
assault was carried out by groups based outside India, usually
an allusion to India's nuclear-armed neighbour Pakistan.
One of the militants was a resident of Faridkot in
Pakistan's Punjab province, the Hindu newspaper said, citing
unidentified police investigators.
"Based on the interrogation of the suspects, the
investigators believe that one or more groups of Lashkar
operatives left Karachi in a merchant ship early on Wednesday,"
the newspaper said.
It said the group came ashore at Mumbai on a small boat and
then split up into small teams to attack multiple locations.
The Indian Express newspaper said the group left the
Pakistani port city of Karachi by sea and transferred to two
small boats or rubber dinghies off Mumbai.
They were seen by several residents coming ashore but
allayed suspicion by saying they were students, it said.
The Times of India said the attackers were aged between 18
and 25. Each was given "an AK-47 assault rifle with two
magazines each, one pistol and eight to 10 grenades suspected
to have manufactured at a Pakistan ordnance factory" it said.
"The equipment, training and sophistication of their
planning would tend to indicate a Pakistani link," wrote
strategic affairs analyst K. Subrahmanyam in the Times of
Lashkar-e-Taiba, along with another group,
Jaish-e-Mohammed, made its name fighting Indian rule in
disputed Kashmir, where state elections are underway.
Both groups were closely linked in the past to the
Pakistani military's powerful Inter-Services Intelligence
agency, the ISI.
They were also blamed for an attack on India's parliament
in 2001 which brought the two countries close to a fourth war
since independence from Britain 60 years ago.
"The possibility of rogue elements in ISI and jihadi
elements in Pakistan conspiring to create tensions between New
Delhi and Islamabad cannot be ruled out," Subrahmanyam wrote.
Singh did not specifically name Pakistan, which has
condemned the attacks and promised full cooperation.
"We will take up strongly with our neighbours that the use
of their territory for launching attacks on us will not be
tolerated, and that there would be a cost if suitable measures
are not taken by them," Singh said in a televised address.
(Reporting by C.J. Kuncheria; Writing by Raju Gopalakrishnan;
Editing by Paul Tait)