ReutersPosted: Dec 01, 2008 at 1641 hrs IST
Mumbai: Investigators said on Monday the militants who attacked Mumbai had months of commando training in Pakistan, adding to rising tensions between the neighbours as recriminations mounted at home.
The fallout prompted a second top politician from the ruling Congress party to resign, amid growing anger at intelligence failures that many Indians believe allowed 10 Islamist gunmen to kill 183 people and besiege India's financial capital for three bloody days.
The attacks, which struck Mumbai's two best-known luxury hotels and other landmarks in the city of 18 million, are a major setback for improving ties between India and Pakistan.
The White House said US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice would visit India on Wednesday, underscoring the seriousness with which Washington viewed the attacks and the potential threat they had to regional stability.
"I don't want to jump to any conclusions myself on this, but I do think that this is a time for complete, absolute, total transparency and cooperation and that is what we expect (from Pakistan)," Rice told reporters travelling with her to London.
Two senior investigators said on condition of anonymity that evidence from the interrogation of Azam Amir Kasav, the only gunmen of the 10 captured alive, clearly showed that Pakistani militants had a hand in the attack.
The clean-shaven, 21-year-old with fluent English was photographed during the attack wearing a black t-shirt emblazoned with the Versace logo. He has said his team took orders from "their command in Pakistan", police officials said.
The training was organised by the Lashkar-e-Taiba militant group, and conducted by a former member of the Pakistani army, a police officer close to the interrogation said, on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak.
"They underwent training in several phases, which included training in handling weapons, bomb making, survival strategies, survival in a marine environment and even dietary habits," another senior officer said.
The Pakistani-based Lashkar-e-Taiba made its name fighting Indian rule in Kashmir but was also blamed for an attack on the Indian parliament in 2001 that brought the nuclear-armed neighbours close to war.
Lashkar had had close links to Pakistan's military spy agency in the past, security experts say, although the government in Islamabad insists it too is fighting the group and other Islamist extremists based on its soil.
New Delhi has not accused Islamabad's civilian government of involvement but has expressed deep frustration that its neighbour has been unable or unwilling to prevent militants using its soil to attack Indian cities.
Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari has appealed to India not to punish his country for last week's attacks, saying militants could precipitate a war, the Financial Times reported on Monday.
"Even if the militants are linked to Lashkar-e-Taiba, who do you think we are fighting?" asked Zardari in an interview with the Financial Times.
Officials in Islamabad have warned any escalation would force it to divert troops to the Indian border and away from a U.S.-led anti-militant campaign on the Afghan frontier.
"It's part of the usual blackmail of the United States that Pakistan does to take more interest in India-Pakistan issues," said B. Raman, a former head of Indian intelligence agency RAW.
"NO ONE ACTED"
The leader of Maharashtra's main fishermen's union says he had tipped off the government four months ago about militants using the sea to land RDX explosives in Mumbai.
"No one acted upon our information," Damodar Tandel said.
A huge consignment of explosives and guns brought ashore in Mumbai in 1993 was used to set off a string of bombs in the city that killed 257 people.
Mumbai residents returned to schools and offices on Monday for the first time since the attacks.
Candlelight vigils were held in New Delhi and at various spots in Mumbai on Sunday, with people holding hands, singing and carrying banners, some in remembrance of victims, others protesting over what they saw as government inaction.
Candles and flowers were also strewn at the bullet-scarred Cafe Leopold and at barricades in front of the Taj and Trident hotels, where the gunmen holed up during the 60-hour siege.