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Pakistani Gunman Found Guilty for Role in Mumbai Attacks

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Anjana Pasricha

In India, a court has convicted a Pakistani national for his role in the 2008 terror attacks in Mumbai that killed 166 people.  He was the only gunman captured alive during the assaults, which strained ties between India and Pakistan.  Two Indians, also on trial in connection with the attacks, have been acquitted.

A year and a half after India's financial hub was devastated by terror attacks, a special court found Mohammed Ajmal Kasab, 22, guilty of murder, waging war against India and other charges.

Kasab heard the judgment impassively.  He was one of 10 gunmen who arrived by sea and attacked Mumbai's main rail station, two five-star hotels, a restaurant and a Jewish center in November 2008.  The assaults lasted three days and claimed 166 lives.

Kasab is the only gunman who survived.  He was arrested on the first night of the attacks.  Footage from closed circuit cameras showed him armed with an AK 47 rifle at the rail station where scores of people died.

The sentence will be pronounced on Tuesday.  He could face the death penalty.  

Indian authorities say the attacks were orchestrated by the Pakistan-based militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba, of which Kasab is a member.  Islamabad has admitted that Kasab is a Pakistani citizen and that the attacks were partly plotted on its soil.

Indian Home Minister P. Chidambaram said Monday's verdict sent a clear signal to Pakistan.

"The judgment itself is a message to Pakistan that they should not export terror to India," he said.  "If they do, if the terrorists are apprehended, we will be able to bring them to justice and give them exemplary punishment."

Citing lack of evidence, the court acquitted two Indians, Fahim Ansari and Sabaauddin Ahmed, who were on trial for conducting reconnaissance before the attacks.  The prosecution is likely to appeal the verdict.   

India charged 38 people in connection with the attacks, but most of them live in Pakistan.  

The trial has been concluded fairly quickly in a country where judicial proceedings can drag on for years.  The trial witnessed several twists and turns as Kasab first pleaded innocence, then made a surprise confession, but later retracted it.     

The Mumbai terror attacks were among the worst that India has suffered.  They prompted New Delhi to suspend peace talks with Pakistan, but both countries are now taking steps to normalize ties.

New Delhi has accused Islamabad of not doing enough to bring the perpetrators of the attacks to justice, and wants Pakistan to act against militants operating from its soil.

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