Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Work of Sunni group

Guardian Unlimited | Special reports | Sophistication suggests work of Sunni group: "Though India is no stranger to terrorist attacks, this was the deadliest for more than 10 years and involved a high degree of coordination, as the seven bombs went off within 15 minutes. There were compelling echoes of the Madrid and London bombings, and within hours the local TV networks had dubbed the atrocity 7/11.

The Times of India cited intelligence sources as pinning the blame on Lashkar-e-Taiba and a local Islamic student group. Lashkar-e-Taiba (Soldiers of the Pure) operated freely in Pakistan until shortly after September 11 2001. It recruited and raised funds openly, putting collection boxes in shops.

After George Bush pressed his Pakistani counterpart, Pervez Musharraf, to ban the group in January 2002, it split. One faction renamed itself Jama'at ud Dawa, while others worked more loosely; so the name, Lashkar-e-Taiba, is as vague an umbrella for militants focused on the Kashmir issue as al-Qaida is for anti-American jihadis.

The group denied killing civilians, claiming such an act went against its religious belief. Indian police accused the group of explosions in Mumbai in August 2003 which killed 55 people, and of a raid on the Indian parliament in 2001 that almost brought India and Pakistan to war. The group was blamed for attacks in October in Delhi which killed more than 60 people, and for explosions in the Hindu holy city of Varanasi this year which killed at least 15 people.

The earthquake in northern Pakistan and parts of Kashmir in October gave the group a new lease of life. Pakistan allowed it to collect funds openly again, officially for reconstruction work. Many of its offices reopened.

The first bomb blasts in Mumbai, in 1993, when more than 250 people died, were later blamed on the city's criminal gangs. But communal antagonism was also suspected. The attacks followed the demolition of a mosque in the Hindu holy city of Ayodhya."

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