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India Implicates Islamic Militants in Car Bombings, Indirectly Accuses Pakistan - 2003-08-26


India's deputy prime minister says there are indications Islamic militants were involved in two car bomb attacks in Bombay on Monday, which killed at least 50 people and injured around 150. The Indian official also indirectly pointed the finger at neighboring Pakistan.

Enroute to Bombay to visit the sites of the bombings, Indian Deputy Prime Minister Lal Krishna Advani told reporters that preliminary investigations indicate two banned Islamic militant groups were involved in the attacks.

He cited the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba as a main suspect. The second group under suspicion is an Indian group, the Student Islamic Movement of India.

Mr. Advani did not specifically allege that Pakistan was behind Monday's bombings in Bombay, but he did accuse Islamabad of waging a war of terrorism against India as a whole, not only in the disputed region of Kashmir.

"I would say that our neighbor's war of terrorism against us is not directed only against Jammu and Kashmir," he said.

Mr. Advani accused Pakistan of seeking to destabilize India. He also dismissed Pakistan's condemnation of Monday bomb attacks as a "mere formality."

He said he could only accept the condemnation as serious if Pakistan handed over a number of suspects wanted in India in connection with another series of bombings in Bombay in 1993.

Lashkar-e-Taiba is one of the militant groups fighting Indian forces in Kashmir. India has often blamed the group for carrying out attacks against Indian troops and civilians. It also accuses Pakistan of supporting those attacks, a charge Islamabad has repeatedly denied.

In recent months relations between India and Pakistan have been on the mend with both sides resuming a dialogue and saying they want to resolve their differences through peaceful means.

A day after Monday's bomb attacks, life in Bombay returned to normal with shops, schools and businesses open. The bomb sites were closed off as police continued to search for clues.

Police have stepped up security in major cities throughout India following Monday's attacks.

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