Wednesday, July 12, 2006

BOMBAY — The death toll from a series of bombs that struck Bombay’s packed commuter trains rose today to 200, and India demanded that Pakistan dismantle the “infrastructure of terrorism” but leveled no direct accusation at its rival for the attacks.

The number of dead in the eight near-simultaneous bombings during Tuesday evening’s rush hour in India’s financial hub has risen steadily as rescue efforts have uncovered more bodies and people have succumbed to their injuries.

R. Patil, the deputy chief minister of Maharashtra state told lawmakers that 200 bodies had been found in the twisted wreckage of the trains. Bombay is the capital of Maharashtra.

Officials say more than 700 people were wounded in the attack, stunning a city that embodies India’s global ambitions.

Today, Foreign Ministry spokesman Navtej Sarna repeated Indian demands that Pakistan crack down on the militants, who New Delhi says operate from Islamabad’s part of Kashmir.

“We would urge Pakistan to take urgent steps to dismantle the infrastructure of terrorism on the territory under its control and act resolutely against individuals and groups who are responsible for terrorists’ violence,” he said.

His comments followed remarks by Pakistani Foreign Minister Khurshid Mahmoud Kasuri, who said in a speech Tuesday at the Carnegie Endowment for Peace in Washington that solving the Kashmir issue “is the best way of tackling extremism in South Asia.”

Mr. Sarna replied angrily to those comments.

“We find it appalling that Kasuri should seek to link this blatant and inhuman act of terrorism against men, women and children to the so-called lack of resolution of dispute between India and Pakistan,” Mr. Sarna told reporters.

Indian officials have been hesitant to blame Pakistan in the wake of the bombings, although many here suspect the attacks were the work of Kashmiri militants who New Delhi charges are trained, armed and funded by Islamabad. Pakistan insists it only offers the rebels diplomatic and moral support.

Meanwhile, a senior police official said investigators were looking into a possible link with Lashkar-e-Taiba, a Kashmiri militant group that has denied playing a role in the bombings.

“It is difficult to say definitely at this stage, but Lashkar-e-Taiba can be involved going by the style of attack,” said P.S. Pasricha, the director general of police for Maharashtra state.

Lashkar has, in the past, employed near-simultaneous explosions to attack Indian cities.

However, other Indian officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity because the investigation was just getting under way, cautioned that it was too early to accuse a specific group.

Also today, suspected Islamic militants wounded five Indian tourists in a grenade attack in a resort town in Indian-controlled Kashmir, police said. That came after eight persons were killed Tuesday by grenade attacks in Srinagar, Indian Kashmir’s main city.

Pakistan has harshly condemned the bombings, but analysts said a Kashmiri link could slow [-] or even derail [-] the peace process between the nuclear-armed neighbors.

Tuesday’s attacks drew condemnation from around the world, and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh called the terrorist attacks “shocking and cowardly.”

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