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He acknowledged that some terrorists are based on Pakistani soil, but said that was true of all countries as well as India and Afghanistan.#

“It is unfair to blame Pakistan or Pakistanis for these acts of terrorism even before an investigation is undertaken. Instead of scoring political points at the expense of a neighboring country that is itself a victim of terrorism, it is time for India’s leaders to work together with Pakistan’s elected leaders in putting up a joint front against terrorism,” he said.

Three of the militants have confessed they are members of the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba group, the Hindu newspaper reported Friday. But the Islamist militant group, one of the largest in South Asia, denied that it had any role in the attacks.

Hindu-dominated India, which has a sizable Muslim minority, has been hit by militant attacks for decades.

This strike appeared aimed at crippling its ability to attract foreign investment. It bears some hallmarks of al Qaeda, but it is too early to say whether the network was behind it, British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said.

A group called Deccan Mujahideen claimed responsibility for the attacks in e-mails to local news organizations. A group member, interviewed by a local TV station, said Bombay was attacked to protest the treatment of Muslims in India. He said seven terrorists were holding hostages in the Oberoi.

Shahadullah told the station that he was part of an Indian group seeking an end to the persecution of Indian Muslims. “We want all mujahedeens held in India released and only after that we will release the people,” he said.

University of Michigan terrorism analyst Scott Atran told The Washington Times, “As long as Pakistan is unstable and unable or unwilling to control jihadi groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba operating in India or al Qaeda affiliated groups in Afghanistan the whole region will remain volatile, European and American troops will be bogged down in Afghanistan and India will be a repeated target.”

Stephen Cohen, a senior fellow and South Asia analyst at the Brookings Institution, said homegrown terrorists may be involved in the attacks.

“There are plenty of alienated Hyderabadi Muslims,” Mr. Cohen said, referring to Muslims from central India. “My guess is that this is a complex operation involving several groups, some in India, perhaps some outside [-] the intel failure is pretty serious.”