March 23, 2010 / 5:09 PM / 9 years ago

Outlawed Pakistan group LeT calls for holy war

MUZAFFARABAD, Pakistan (Reuters) - The head of an outlawed Pakistan-based militant group blamed for the 2008 attack on the Indian commercial capital of Mumbai urged supporters on Tuesday to wage holy war against “oppressors”.

The call by Abdul Wahid Kashmiri, also the top military commander Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), is likely to anger India, which has demanded that Pakistan crack down on the group, as well as the United States.

U.S. lawmakers this month urged the Obama administration to focus more attention on LeT militants and push Islamabad harder to rein in the group.

LeT, one of the largest and best-funded Islamist militant groups in South Asia, was nurtured by Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence spy agency to fight India in the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir.

India wants Pakistan to prosecute LeT founder Hafiz Saeed, who it blames for the Mumbai rampage that killed 166 people.

“It is the religious obligation of Mujahideen to fight the invaders and oppressors across the world,” Kashmiri told a rally in Kotli, a town in Pakistani Kashmir.

Pakistani authorities officially banned LeT after it was blamed for an attack on the Indian parliament in 2001, but analysts say the group is still unofficially tolerated as it is not believed to have been involved in attacks inside Pakistan.

Pakistan has in recent months offered greater cooperation in tracking down Taliban militants from neighbouring Afghanistan, but U.S. officials are frustrated this has not extended to LeT extremists.

Kashmiri vowed LeT would continue its support for Kashmiri people “until they achieve freedom from India”.

While Pakistan has put seven militants, including a senior Let commander on trial, it says India has not provided sufficient evidence to prosecute Saeed.

Writing by Zeeshan Haider; Editing by Michael Georgy and Alex Richardson

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