12/05/2008, 00.00
INDIA - PAKISTAN
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Many more terrorists involved in Mumbai attacks

An expert says there were "at least 23 terrorists." The authorities are denying this. In an atmosphere of widespread fear, yesterday there was a false alarm for a shooting at the New Delhi airport. The media are accusing the Pakistani secret service.

Mumbai (AsiaNews/Agencies) - There were "many more terrorists" involved in the attacks that killed 188 people last week, but a number of them were able to escape. After the shock, India is fearfully awaiting new attacks, while the media insist that Pakistan was complicit.

Farhana Ali, a former analyst for the CIA and an expert in the sector, says that "my sources say [there were] at least 23 of the gunmen." "If that's true, that makes one wonder why we haven't seen more attacks." The fear is that this is exactly what they're planning.

The authoritative source finds indirect confirmation in the admission today by the new Indian interior minister, Palaniappan Chidambaram, that the attacks revealed "errors" in the security system. The minister also reiterated that there were only 10 terrorists in the attack (nine dead, one captured) as confirmed by "evidence from the CCTV footage and statements made by the surviving attacker."

Tension remains extremely high: yesterday, news of two dull noises at the airport in New Delhi was reported by the media as a shooting, although the police immediately denied this. The airports of New Delhi, Bangalore, and Chennai are on permanent "red alert," and are being patrolled by the armed forces (in the photo), after indications pointed to the risk of more attacks. In Mumbai and the other airports in the country, there is a state of "normal" alert.

At the main train station in Mumbai, the police yesterday defused an unexploded bomb. It is believed that it was there for a week, raising more alarms about security.

Indian and United States counterterrorism offices confirm that the presence of more terrorists in the country cannot be excluded. U.S. anti-terrorism expert David Kilcullen observes that the attackers showed a high level of preparation, the sign of a long period of training: they came to the city by sea, set off diversionary explosions, invaded two large hotels and the Jewish center, and kept the authorities at bay for three days.

Meanwhile, the Indian media are repeating that the terrorists were trained in Pakistan, and that the country's intelligence agency is also involved. Questioned in this regard, Chidambaram neither confirmed nor denied possible connections with Pakistan.

In order to avoid further tension, U.S. secretary of state Condoleezza Rice yesterday visited Pakistani president Asif Ali Zardari, after meeting with Indian authorities in New Delhi on December 3. She said that "Pakistan has to determine its own response here. It just needs to be a robust response and it needs to be effective." U.S. sources have confirmed that the terrorists may have been trained in Pakistan, although they have not indicated any connections with the government.

Zardari guaranteed "strong action against any Pakistani elements found involved in the attack," saying that the country will do anything possible to collaborate in the investigations. There is no news yet of any joint Indian and Pakistani initiative to identify or uproot the accomplices of the terrorists.

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