Pakistani Intelligence Blamed for Mumbai Bombings

Mumbai's police chief has accused Pakistan's intelligence agency -- the ISI -- of masterminding the July 11, 2006 train blasts in Mumbai that killed 186 people.

Saying that the investigation was now complete, Mumbai's police chief, A. N. Roy, stunned Indians by explicitly naming the ISI as the perpetrator of the terrorist attack in which seven bombs went off in packed commuter trains.

"We have solved the July 11 bombings case. The whole attack was planned by Pakistan's ISI and carried out by Lashkar-e-Taiba and their operatives in India," he said.

Lashkar-e-Taiba is a Pakistan-based militant Islamic group that has been fighting in Kashmir for some years. It was helped, Roy said, by a banned local militant group, the Students Islamic Movement of India.

Roy's statement is a major departure for India. In the past, New Delhi has regularly accused Pakistan of sponsoring terrorism in India by funding and training militant groups that carry out attacks in India. But it has refrained from specifically mentioning the ISI. Immediately after the Bombay blasts, for example, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said he suspected a Pakistani hand, but he didn't mention the ISI.

Pakistan Denies Involvement

Pakistan vehemently denied the charge and demanded evidence. This time around, Roy has gone a step further than the Prime Minister by naming the ISI.

But at a press conference, Roy refused to give any details about why he was accusing Pakistan, saying only that tapped phone conversations led the investigators to conclude that the ISI was responsible.

Roy said the blasts were carried out by a group of Pakistanis and Indians who used RDX-packed in pressure cookers.The pressure cookers were kept inside bags which were in turn camouflaged with newspapers and umbrellas.

Fifteen people have been arrested in the case. So far, 12 are said to be directly involved in the conspiracy. The case against the other three is still being fleshed out.

According to Roy, the conspiracy was planned in Mumbai and adjoining areas. Some of the Pakistanis involved in the plan received training at camps in Pakistan.

Tariq Aziz, Pakistan's minister of state for information, rejected the allegations.

"India has always chosen this path of pointing fingers at Pakistan without evidence," he said.

India's accusation comes at a delicate point in Indo-Pakistan relations. India froze its peace talks with Islamabad following the train bombings.

But earlier this month, at a meeting in Havana, Cuba, Pakistan president Pervez Musharraf and Manmohan Singh agreed to resume talks. They also agreed to set up a joint mechanism to fight terrorism.

The decision drew vociferous criticism from some analysts in New Delhi who said that fighting terrorism with Pakistan was like asking someone who had already robbed you to help you protect your home.