MUMBAI (Reuters) - Mumbai on Sunday mopped up the streets where Islamist gunmen rampaged and killed nearly 200 people over three days, while Indian anger over the attack’s alleged Pakistani links threatened the nuclear rivals’ ties.
Anger at the intelligence failure and delayed response to the attacks on two of the best-known luxury hotels and other landmarks in India’s financial capital prompted Home Minister Shivraj Patil to submit his resignation.
Newspaper editorials and commentaries blasted politicians for failing to prevent the attacks and for taking advantage of its fallout before elections on Delhi on Saturday and national polls due by May.
Indian officials have said most, perhaps all, of the 10 Islamist attackers who held Mumbai hostage with frenzied attacks using assault rifles and grenades came from Pakistan, a Muslim nation carved out of Hindu-majority India in 1947.
India said on Sunday it had proof of a Pakistani link to the attacks, raising the prospect of a breakdown of peace efforts going on since 2004. The two countries have fought three wars since 1947.
“We will increase security and strengthen it at a war level like we have never done it before,” Sriprakash Jaiswal, India’s minister of state for home affairs told Reuters on Sunday.
Pakistan has also said it would move troops from its western border with Afghanistan, where security forces are battling al Qaeda and Taliban fighters as part of the U.S.-led campaign against militancy, to the Indian border if tension escalated.
An official in Islamabad said the next one to two days would be crucial for the nuclear-armed neighbours’ relations. Pakistan has condemned the assaults and denied any involvement by state agencies.
Pakistani Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani telephoned opposition politicians late on Saturday to brief them on the crisis and garner support.
“These political leaders assured the prime minister of their full support and cooperation at this critical juncture,” Gilani’s office said. Gilani had cancelled a trip to Hong Kong, an official said.
Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari has said he would act swiftly on any evidence of Pakistani involvement.
The three-day rampage and siege in Mumbai turned India’s financial and entertainment hub into a televised war zone.
On Sunday morning, the smell of disinfectant was strong outside Cafe Leopold, and the sidewalk wet from the mopping — a very different sight from Wednesday night, when blood-splattered shoes and napkins lay strewn among broken furniture and glass.
“We are opening today. I’m just waiting for my work force to turn up. We’ve cleaned up, put everything in order,” said Farhang Jehani, who with his brother Farzad, owns and runs the cafe.
Elite Black Cat commandos killed the last of the gunmen on Saturday after three days of room-to-room battling inside the Taj Mahal, one of several landmarks struck in coordinated attacks on Wednesday night.
Hundreds of people, many of them Westerners, were trapped or taken hostage as the gunmen hurled grenades and fired indiscriminately. At least 22 of those killed were foreigners, including businessmen and tourists.
Nine gunmen and 20 police and soldiers were also killed. A tenth militant was caught alive.
On Saturday, India’s navy and coast guard boosted coastal patrols, after evidence mounted the attackers had come by boat to Mumbai from Karachi, Pakistan’s main port.
U.S. President George W. Bush said on Saturday he was closely monitoring the Mumbai attacks and pledged “full support” to India during the investigations.
India’s Home Ministry said the official toll in Mumbai was 183 killed. Earlier, Mumbai disaster authorities said at least 195 people had been killed and 295 wounded.
The attacks struck at the heart of Mumbai, the engine of an economic boom that has made India a favourite emerging market.
The city of 18 million is also home to the “Bollywood” film industry, the epitome of glamour in a country blighted by poverty.