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India Rejects Pakistani Naval Chief's Assertion on Mumbai Attackers


Indian government officials quickly slammed the assertion of the Pakistani naval chief that there is no evidence the terrorist attack on Mumbai was carried out by gunmen who took a sea route from Pakistan.

The fragile cooperation between India and Pakistan in investigating last November's terror attack in Mumbai has suffered a setback with a statement by the Pakistani naval chief of staff.

Speaking to reporters in Karachi Friday, Admiral Noman Bashir contradicted his own government's earlier assertion that the attackers used the sea route to infiltrate India's major port city.

The admiral says there is no proof of India's claim that the only arrested terror suspect Ajmal Amir Kasab went by sea from Pakistan to carry out the attack in Mumbai. He further calls the Mumbai siege a "complete failure of the Indian Navy."

The comment - repeatedly broadcast by Indian TV news channels - prompted an immediate reaction from officials here. They were quick to point out not only India, but other countries, have concluded that the evidence clearly shows the terrorists infiltrated by sea from Pakistan.

"It is very clear where it was plotted, where the masterminds are at, where the perpetrators came from," said Anand Sharma, India's Minister of State for External Affairs. "There has been an acknowledgment, even if partial, by Pakistan itself."

Indian home minister Palaniappan Chidambaram tersely laments a top Pakistani military official is contradicting the internationally-recognized evidence recovered from vessels and satellite communications equipment - that the Mumbai attackers indeed sailed from Pakistan.

"That's par for the course," said Chidambaram. "They've been prevaricating for many weeks. And this is part of the prevarication."

Indian government and military officials point out that Pakistan's interior minister, Rehman Malik, earlier acknowledged evidence demonstrating the use of the sea route by the gunmen to infiltrate Mumbai. All but one of the heavily armed terrorists were believed killed during the 60-hour siege that left more than 170 people dead.

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