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Mumbai Terror Attacks Heighten Tensions Between India, Pakistan


India has formally demanded strong action from Pakistan against those behind the terror attacks in Mumbai. As Anjana Pasricha reports from New Delhi, the attacks have heightened tensions between the South Asia nuclear-armed rivals after India accused Pakistan-based militants of carrying out the terror strikes.

The Indian foreign ministry summoned Pakistan's envoy in New Delhi, Shahid Malik, Monday to inform him that last week's terrorist attacks in Mumbai were carried out by "elements from Pakistan."

New Delhi told Pakistan's ambassador that it wants strong action against those responsible. It said Islamabad's "actions need to match the sentiments expressed by its leadership that it wishes to have a qualitatively new relationship with India."

Indian officials said the well planned assault was mounted by terrorists trained by the Pakistan-based militant group called Lashkar-e-Taiba. About 10 to 15 heavily armed gunmen attacked different targets across India's business hub last week, killing and wounding hundreds of people.

Pakistan has denied any involvement by its state agencies and vowed to cooperate in the investigation.

India's junior foreign minister Anand Sharma has called the attacks a setback to the process of normalization of relations between the two countries.

"In what I can say was an assault on the dignity of the Indian nation state came from outside India and there are Pakistani links which are very clear and elements from Pakistan and forces and groups from there," he said.

The accusations by India have fueled fears of a sharp deterioration in relations between the two countries, and the possibility of heightened tensions along their borders.

However, a strategic analyst at New Delhi's Center for Policy Research, Bharat Karnad, said New Delhi is unlikely to do what it did following a deadly assault on its parliament by Pakistan-based militant groups in 2001 when it massed troops along its border, bringing the two countries to the brink of war.

"I doubt very much whether this government has the will to get into a punitive mode, and order any kind of military counteraction or something of the kind. That won't happen. But yes relations are in tatters for the moment and that will be the case for a while now," he said.

Pakistan has already indicated that if tensions with India escalate, it may move troops from its Afghan border to the Indian border.

U.S. Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice is expected to discuss the terror attacks during a visit to India on Wednesday.

India and Pakistan have fought three wars since their independence from Britain. India blames Pakistan-based groups for training and arming Islamic militants to conduct terror strikes in India and to foment a separatist insurgency in Indian Kashmir.