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Indian Asks Pakistan to Take Action Against Group Blamed for Attack - 2001-12-14

India has blamed a Pakistan-based Islamic militant group for a suicide attack on the Indian Parliament that killed 12 people. India has asked Pakistan to prove its commitment to fighting terrorism by taking action against the group.

Foreign Minister Jaswant Singh says New Delhi has evidence that the attack on Parliament was carried out by the Lakshar-e-Taiba militant group which is waging an armed insurgency in Indian Kashmir. "India has technical evidence that yesterday's terrorist attack on not just the seat but the symbol of Indian democracy and on the sovereignty of Indian people was the handiwork of a terrorist organization based in Pakistan, Lakshar-e-Taiba," he said.

Mr. Singh said New Delhi has asked Pakistan to arrest the leaders and freeze the financial assets of the Lakshar-e-Taiba and another hard-line militant group called the Jaish-e-Mohammad. A spokesman for the Lakshar-e-Taiba group has called Mr. Singh's charge baseless.

The formal complaint and demand for the arrests was made to the Pakistani High Commissioner in New Delhi, Ashraf Jahangir Qazi.

Mr. Singh said India is an ally in the international war against terrorism and called New Delhi's demands in accordance with international obligations and commitments in countering terrorism.

India accuses Pakistan of sponsoring and funding Islamic militant groups fighting for Kashmir's independence from India, a charge Pakistan denies. Islamabad says it only gives diplomatic support to Kashmiri militants.

No group has claimed responsibility for Thursday's attack, which was carried out by a five-man suicide squad that entered parliament in a stolen car, armed with grenades and guns. A bloody, hour-long battle with security forces killed 12 people and injured several others.

Indian leaders responded by issuing a tough statement vowing to liquidate the terrorists and their sponsors "whoever they are, wherever they are." On Friday members of parliament led by the Speaker of the lower house, Ganti Balayogi said they will fight the challenge of terrorism. "Such attacks reinforce our determination to fight the evil of terrorism," he said. "Let us rededicate ourselves to protect the sovereignty and integrity of the country at all costs."

A group of ruling party legislators has urged the Indian prime minister to follow a "proactive and hot pursuit policy" that would allow security forces to attack and destroy militant training camps which New Delhi says are located in Pakistani Kashmir.

Parliament convened briefly Friday amid heavy security to pay tribute to those killed in the attack. Opposition lawmakers are also asking the government for an explanation of how the assault occurred despite heavy security and recent intelligence warnings about such an attack.