Pakistan admits Mumbai attack link

Pakistan today admitted for the first time that the Mumbai terrorist attacks were plotted and put into action there.

Pakistan today admitted for the first time that the Mumbai terrorist attacks were plotted and put into action there.

Interior Ministry chief Rehman Malik also said Pakistan had arrested most of the main suspects and had started criminal proceedings against them.

The revelations appear to suggest that Pakistan is serious about punishing those behind the November attacks, which killed 164 people and raised fears of a new war with India.

India and the West have urged Pakistan to crack down on Lashkar-e-Taiba, a Pakistan-based militant group widely blamed for the bloodshed. Pakistan has already arrested several of its leaders.

Mr Malik said investigators had traced a boat engine used by the attackers to sail from Pakistan to India and stormed two hideouts of the suspects near the southern city of Karachi.

Other leads pointed to Europe and the United States, and he said Pakistan would ask the FBI for help.

"Some part of the conspiracy has taken place in Pakistan and ... according to the available information, most of them (the suspects) are in our custody," he said.

India says all 10 gunmen - only one of whom was captured alive - were Pakistanis and that their handlers in Pakistan had kept in touch with them by phone during the three-day assault.

In the first comment on Pakistan's investigation, Mr Malik said criminal cases had been opened against eight suspects on charges of "abetting, conspiracy and facilitation" of a terrorist act.

He said six of them were already in custody.

Mr Malik said the killers used three boats to travel from Pakistan to Mumbai.

He said detectives had traced an engine recovered from one of the vessels to a shop in Karachi. He said the shopkeeper had provided the phone number of the buyer which led to a bank account in the name of Hammad Amin Sadiq.

Mr Malik said authorities had arrested Sadiq and obtained from him information that led them to raid two "hideouts of the terrorists", one in Karachi and one about two hours drive away.

He described Sadiq as "the main operator".

Investigators identified locations where the attackers had practised the sea-borne portion of their attack plan, he said.

Mr Malik said the pieces of evidence collected "connect to" the leadership of Lashkar-e-Taiba, including Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi and Zarrar Shah, who India says masterminded the attacks.

But he said Pakistan needed more assistance from India if it was to bring a successful criminal prosecution.

He said one suspect, Javed Iqbal, had been in Spain but was now in Pakistani custody.

The terrorists used phones with Indian SIM cards, Mr Malik said.

They also had a digital teleconferencing system whose service provider is based in Texas, while a specialist phone was issued in a "Middle Eastern country," Mr Malik said.

"It is not only Pakistan, but the system of the other countries has also been used," he said.

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