Newspapers: Evidence Implicates Pakistan in Bombay Blasts
NEW DELHI, India (AP) _ Investigators found evidence implicating Pakistan in the bombings that killed more than 300 people in Bombay last month, three newspapers reported Sunday.
None of the papers identified their sources for the reports, but the similarity and the prominent display in each paper indicated the information was deliberately leaked with government approval.
The reports were likely to deepen hostility between India and Pakistan as their prime ministers prepare to meet at a seven-nation regional summit next weekend.
Pakistan, which has fought three wars with India since their independence in 1947, has denied having anything to do with the bombings.
A senior Indian official, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed the government suspects the Pakistani government or intelligence service was involved in the blasts that wracked India’s financial center March 12.
A total of 13 bombs exploded one after another in Bombay within 2 hours, killing at least 317 people and damaging India’s largest stock exchange, the offices of Air India and residential buildings.
Previously, Sharad Pawar, governor of Maharashtra state, accused Pakistan’s intelligence agency of being involved in the bombings, but he offered little evidence to support his suspicions.
India’s federal government has said suspects in the bombings fled to Pakistan.
The newspapers said that among the 52 people arrested so far, two men confessed to being trained in Pakistan to handle arms and explosives for 10 days.
″Clinching proof of the Pakistani involvement ... (came) to light during interrogation of the arrested persons,″ the newspaper Indian Express said.
The Hindustan Times and The Sunday Times published similar stories.
According to the reports, Gul Mohammed, one of the suspects, said he and four other people flew from Bombay to the Persian Gulf city of Dubai and then to Islamabad, Pakistan, on Feb. 17. They did not have to go through immigration formalities and were driven to the training camp, the Times of India said.
The newspapers said 20 Indian Muslims were trained in handling explosives in a forest near Islamabad, Pakistan’s capital, between Feb. 18 and Feb. 28. They returned to Bombay on March 4, the stories said.
The reports also said there was evidence the explosives used on March 12 were smuggled into India by Indian Muslims with the help of Pakistan’s secret service.
The Hindustan Times said Pakistan hoped to create chaos in its neighbor by using local Muslims who were angry and frustrated following the demolition of a mosque by Hindu fanatics on Dec. 6 in the northern town of Ayodhya.
The demolition led to nationwide Hindu-Muslim riots that left more than 2,000 people dead. In Bombay alone, the toll was 1,400, most of them Muslims.
Indian police have previously said money for the bombing was channeled through Dawood Ibrahim, an Indian living in Dubai who reputedly became wealthy through smuggling contraband to India. The Bombay operations were handled by two brothers, Ibrahim and Yakub Memon, who along with 13 other family members fled Bombay just before the blasts.
India says the Memons have found refuge in Pakistan. The Pakistani government says it is hunting for them.