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Afghan Officials Back Allegations of Regional Links to Mumbai Attackers


Afghan President Hamid Karzai has spoken with India's Prime Minister to express his sympathy for victims of the terrorist attacks in Mumbai. VOA's Barry Newhouse reports from Kabul where the president said there is a new need for a regional approach in combating terrorism.

President Hamid Kazai called India's prime minister Friday to express sympathy to the Indian people in the wake of the terrorist attacks in Mumbai.

In a written statement released by his office, Mr. Karzai said Afghans can understand India's pain, because they themselves have been victims of terrorism for many years.

The statement did not mention if Mr. Karzai discussed India's allegations that the attackers in Mumbai may have links to Pakistan.

But a presidential spokesman contacted by VOA, Sayamak Herawie, said the president believes there are ties to militant groups in the region.

He said the president linked this attack to those terrorists who have an active presence in the region and who work to continuously destabilize security.

In the past year, Afghan, India and U.S. officials have accused Pakistani intelligence agents of links to attacks inside Afghanistan, including July's bombing of the Indian embassy in Kabul.

More recently, Afghan officials said relations with Pakistan's new government have improved, following the resignation of former President Pervez Musharraf. But officials also continue to blame elements of Pakistan's military and intelligence services of supporting Taliban militant groups.

When asked about the allegations of Pakistani links in the latest attacks, Sayamak Herawie said there is good reason to be suspicious.

He said this is a natural response when bases of terrorism exist along Afghanistan's borders. He said it is a fact that terrorists there receive funding and arms.

Since August, Pakistan's military has grown more aggressive in confronting Taliban militants in the tribal regions along the Afghan border. Pakistani civilian leaders have also highlighted the threat these militants pose to Pakistanis.

But both military and civilian officials have insisted that Pakistan alone is capable of confronting the militants. They have also strongly protested a series of U.S. missile strikes targeting Taliban and al Qaida militants in the region.

Following the Mumbai attacks, Pakistani officials have proposed full cooperation with India and a regional approach to combating terrorism. Mr. Karzai said he and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh also endorsed a joint strategy against terrorism in their conversation on Friday.

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