Pakistani merchant ships seized in Mumbai attacks

The Indian navy seized two Pakistani merchant ships, asserting that they were used to drop off the Mumbai attackers in a series of small boats. According to Indian news agencies, intelligence sources pinpointed one particular cargo vessel that had stopped in Mumbai briefly before leaving for Karachi, Pakistan. Indian navy and coastguard vessels happened to be engaged in routine exercises off the coast of Gujarat and were immediately dispatched to intercept the vessel.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh blamed militant groups based in India’s neighbors for the attacks—an obvious reference to Pakistan (and, secondarily, Bangladesh). Authorities said three militants who were captured after the attacks have confessed to being members of the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba. The group, one of the largest Islamist militant groups in South Asia, has denied that it had any role in the attacks. (Lashkar-e-Taiba was also implicated in the 2006 Mumbai bombings.)

Pakistan’s ambassador to the US, Hussain Haqqani, protested the supposed findings. “As far as evidence is concerned, nothing has been shared with us,” he said. “In the past, also there have been occasions when allegations have been levelled on Pakistan only to be proven wrong subsequently. So I would wait for evidence to come.” (Radio Australia, Nov. 27)

Meanwhile, commandos from India’s elite National Security Guards have launched an operation to rescue hostages held at the Nariman House Jewish cultural and residential center in Mumbai. Three fresh explosions are reported at Nariman House after NSG troops rappelled onto the building;s roof from helicopters. (IANS, PTI, Nov. 28)

See our last posts on Pakistan and the Mumbai attacks.