Mumbai mayhem's British connection?

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London, Nov 29 (UNI) British media has been digging deep into the possibility of the involvement of British-born terrorists in the Mumbai terror attacks.

Referring to highly-placed sources in India, who have claimed that at least seven of the terrorists had strong British connections, one media report said two of them could have been from Leeds.

Another of the gunmen -- all believed to be from Pakistani background -- was alleged to have links to Bradford in West Yorkshire and a fourth to Hartlepool on Teesside. All were aged between 20 and 26.

The suspects were allegedly found with documentation, possibly including passports, which revealed their origin.

Reportedly, although there was no official confirmation of the links, counter-terrorism officers were last night understood to have been active across the North.

A senior officer in the country's elite Black Cat commando unit has been quoted as saying: ''There was a lot of content from the English media, not just in London but the Urdu and Arabic sites that are very strong in the North of England,'' he said.

''We have some analysis started on this and will pass it on to Scotland Yard,'' he added.

A senior security source said, ''The situation is far from clear, but you can not rule out the possibility that a number of young men from home-grown communities are mixed up.'' A police source said, ''We are probing the underbelly of religious extremism but are having to tread extremely carefully.

The fallout of 7/7 is still rife among these communities and there is a real reluctance to cooperate.'' ''It is a fast-moving situation in India, but we have to be on top of things as they emerge and cannot rule out any links to the UK,'' the source added.

The source suggested that the attack could have been a revenge for the killing of British Al Qaeda chief Rashid Rauf by the US last week in the Pakistan-Afghanistan border region.

British anti-terror police are now running photographs and film footage of the estimated 25 Mumbai gunmen and potential suspects through the latest image-recognition computers.

UNI XC ARB KN1611

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