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Mumbai Terror Attack Escalates Tensions Between India, Pakistan


A diplomatic row between India and Pakistan has erupted over alleged Pakistani involvement in the Mumbai terror attacks. The chill in relations between the two nuclear-armed neighbors comes as commandos in Mumbai launched their final assaults on three sites. The coordinated attacks by unknown militants have left at least 140 people dead and wounded more than 300. VOA correspondent Steve Herman in New Delhi has the story.

Accusations by India's top diplomat and some of its politicians of a Pakistani hand in this week's terrorist attacks on Mumbai is causing an immediate chill in relations between New Delhi and Islamabad. India's External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee has joined the voices here speaking of a Pakistani link to the terrorists who wreaked mayhem across India's commercial capital.

The minister says initial evidence points to the terrorists having Pakistani links.

Mukherjee also is calling on Pakistan to dismantle the infrastructure in that country which he says assists terrorists.

Other Indian politicians and military officials say those who attacked Mumbai came from Pakistan by sea.

Pakistan has been quick to respond, condemning such talk.

Speaking to reporters in the Indian state of Rajasthan, Pakistani foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi accuses India of politicizing the issue.

"Do not play politics into this issue. This is a collective issue," said Qureshi. "We are facing a common enemy. And we have to join hands to defeat this enemy."

In Islamabad, Pakistani officials say Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has called his Indian counterpart to pledge full support to jointly combat extremism and terrorism.

In the conversation Mr. Gilani told Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh that Pakistan strongly condemns the attacks on Mumbai.

India media report that Mr. Singh asked the Pakistani prime minister to send the head of his country's intelligence service to New Delhi to exchange information about the militants who attacked Mumbai.

Mr. Singh, on Thursday, in a national address, said the operation was planned outside the country and warned India's neighbors not to provide a haven for terrorists to launch attacks on India.

India and Pakistan have fought three wars since they both won independence from Britain in 1947.

Militants opposed to Indian rule of the disputed Kashmir region attacked the Parliament here in 2001, pushing the two neighbors to the brink of another war the following year.

This July, India accused the Pakistani intelligence service of helping Taliban terrorists bomb the Indian embassy in the Afghan capital. The blast killed 58 people, including two Indian diplomats.

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