- The Washington Times - Monday, December 1, 2008

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan

Pakistan threatened to redeploy troops from the Afghan border to the plains facing India, as charges escalated that terrorists who attacked Bombay planned and trained on Pakistani soil.

Pakistan continued to deny the charges and President Bush sought to defuse tensions, pledging U.S. help in the investigation during a telephone call to Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. The president also dispatched Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to India. Miss Rice and Mr. Bush wanted an opportunity “to express the condolences of the American government directly to the Indian government and the Indian people,” State Department spokesman Sean McCormack told the Associated Press.

Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi told reporters after an emergency Cabinet meeting in Islamabad that Pakistani forces were prepared to defend the country at all costs.

“We do not have to be defensive and we are not defensive as Pakistan is not involved in this incident,” Mr. Qureshi said. “Our hands are clean. There is nothing to hide and nothing to be ashamed of.”

Indian officials have avoided accusing the Pakistani government of complicity in the attack.

But for the first time Sunday, an Indian official openly accused the Pakistan-based group Lashkar-e-Taiba of last week’s 60-hour attack that killed at least 174 people. Six Americans, including a father and daughter from Virginia, were among the dead.

In Bombay, Joint Police Commissioner Rakesh Maria said the only known surviving gunman, Ajmal Qasab, told police that he was trained at a Lashkar-e-Taiba camp in Pakistan, the Associated Press reported.

“Lashkar-e-Taiba is behind the terrorist acts in the city,” the commissioner said.

At least 10 terrorists armed with automatic rifles and grenades struck multiple sites, including two landmark hotels, a Jewish center and Bombay’s main train station, where dozens of policemen armed with sticks and 100-year-old rifles were helpless to intervene.

Asked about the commissioner’s claim, Pakistani Ambassador to the U.S. Husain Haqqani said that just as with the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States, terrorists come from different countries.

“I am glad that no one is accusing the government of Pakistan, the military of Pakistan or even Pakistan’s intelligence services with any credible evidence this time around,” Mr. Haqqani said on CNN’s “Late Edition.”

“The important thing to understand is that Pakistan has condemned this action. Pakistan is on the same side as India and the United States and the rest of the world in fighting terrorism,” Mr. Haqqani said.

Police continued to remove bodies from the colonial-era Taj Mahal on Bombay’s waterfront Sunday, a favorite of well-heeled tourists and India’s growing elite - the site where the siege ended a day earlier.

A group calling itself the Deccan Mujahedeen claimed responsibility for the carnage there and at least nine other sites. The previously unknown group used a name suggesting it was based in India.

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