Senior Resignations Follow Mumbai Attacks
November 30, 2008
Indian Home Affairs Minister Shivraj Patil and national security adviser MK Narayanan have resigned in the wake of the deadly terror attacks in Mumbai that killed or injured hundreds of people.
The resignations come as public anger grows over the apparent ease with which suspected Muslim militants were able to stage the gun-and-bomb assault in the heart of India's financial center.
Home Affairs Minister Patil said he accepted "moral responsibility" for the attacks, which killed at least 172 people and injured more than 200 others.
Finance Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram was appointed to take over Patil's post, overseeing internal administration of the country, security, and law enforcement.
Reports said national security adviser Narayanan also handed in his resignation to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
Much of the focus in India has shifted to how Muslim militants were able to stage and coordinate such daring attacks.
"It is disgusting; it is just disgusting. I can't believe it, that such a thing can happen with us," Jayesh Wohra, a pharmaceutical businessman living Mumbai, told Reuters. He went on to suggest that if it could happen in downtown Mumbai this week "it can happen...anywhere, at an airport, [or] anywhere."
Reports suggest as few as 10 gunmen were involved in the 60-hour assault that began on November 26, which targeted luxury hotels, a rail station, a Jewish center, and other sites. Indian troops routed the last of the gunmen on November 29.
While the vast majority of victims were Indian nationals, more than 20 foreigners are known to have died.
The three-day siege increased tensions with Pakistan after Indian sources alleged that the gunmen had Pakistani links. Islamabad has denied any involvement.
Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said the strain in relations with India is serious and offered full cooperation with New Delhi.
"The Indian leadership has not blamed the government of Pakistan; please be very clear on that. They are suspecting -- at this stage, suspecting -- [that] perhaps groups or organizations that could have a presence here [in Pakistan] to this act," Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said, noting that the strain in relations with India is serious and offering full cooperation with New Delhi. "What we have said is if [Indian authorities] have information, if they have evidence, they should share it with us."
Indian Minister of State for Home Affairs Sriprakash Jaiswal said the country will increase its security to a "war level." In an interview to Reuters, Jaiswal said India had "no doubt" that the terrorists had come from Pakistan.
Security officials have said the Mumbai attackers were the work of Lashkar-e-Taiba, a Pakistan-based group that has been blamed for previous attacks in India. Islamabad banned the group in 2002.
A claim of responsibility was made by a previously unknown group calling itself the Deccan Mujahideen -- a reference to a mainly Muslim region of India.
compiled from wire reports
Copyright (c) 2008. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
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