US intelligence focuses on Pakistani group: NY Times

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Washington, Nov 29 (UNI) American intelligence and counterterrorism officials have talked of mounting evidence against Kashmir-based Pakistani militant group, most likely Lashkar-e-Taiba, responsible for the deadly attacks in Mumbai, according to the New York Times.

The daily, however, says the American officials have cautioned that they had reached no hard conclusions about who was responsible for the operation, nor on how it had been planned and carried out.

Nevertheless, they said that evidence gathered over the past two days has pointed, role of Lashkar-e-Taiba, or possibly another Pakistani group focused on Kashmir like Jaish-e-Muhammad.

It says the American officials insisted on anonymity in describing their current thinking and declined to discuss the intelligence information that they said pointed to the Kashmiri militants.

However, Lashkar-e-Taiba on Thursday denied any responsibility in carrying out the terrorist strikes.

The daily notes that the group is thought by American intelligence agencies to have received some training and logistical support in the past from Pakistan's powerful spy service, the Inter-Services Intelligence agency, or ISI, but American officials said yesterday that there was no evidence that the Pakistani government had any role in the Mumbai attacks.

The Times says, American and Indian officials for years have blamed Lashkar-e-Taiba for a campaign of violence against high-profile targets throughout India, including the December 2001 attack on the Indian Parliament building in New Delhi and an August 2007 strike at an amusement park in Hyderabad.

At times, Indian officials have also said that Jaish-e-Muhammad was responsible for the 2001 attack on the Parliament building.

A State Department report issued this year called Lashkar-e-Taiba ''one of the largest and most proficient of the Kashmiri-focused militant groups.'' The report said that the group drew funding in part from Pakistani expatriate communities in the West Asia, despite the freezing of its assets by the United States and Pakistan in 2002, after the attack on the Indian Parliament.

An FBI team has also been dispatched to Mumbai to assist the forensic investigation of the attacks.

The New York Times quoting officials said that there was also strong evidence that Lashkar-e-Taiba has a 'maritime capability' and would definitely is capable of mounting the sophisticated operation in Mumbai, which intelligence officials say, began when the attackers arrived in the city in small boats.

UNI XC AK PM0630

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