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Mumbai gunman is Pakistan citizen

Mumbai gunman is Pakistan citizen

Publication: BBC News
Date: January 7, 2009
URL: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/7816285.stm

Pakistan has said the only surviving gunman from November's attacks in Mumbai (Bombay) is a Pakistani citizen.

After weeks of refusing to confirm the allegations, the foreign ministry said: "We have just been informed... that Ajmal Qasab is a Pakistani national."

Mohammed Ajmal Amir Qasab was detained on the first night of the attacks.

India says all 10 gunmen were from the Pakistan-based militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba. Relations with Pakistan, which denies any role, are under strain.

More than 170 people died when 10 gunmen attacked Mumbai on 26 November.

Meanwhile, Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has dismissed his national security adviser, Mehmood Ali Durrani, amid the tensions with India.

It is not entirely clear why Mr Durrani lost his job. One report suggested it was because he had made unauthorised comments to the media that the surviving gunman was Pakistani.

A prime ministerial statement said Mr Durrani had been sacked "for his irresponsible behaviour for not taking the prime minister and other stakeholders into confidence, and a lack of co-ordination on matters of national security".


It is the first time Pakistan has acknowledged any links to the gunmen after weeks of refusing to confirm Indian claims.

"We are confirming that Qasab is Pakistani but investigations are still ongoing," Information Minister Sherry Rehman told the BBC on Wednesday.

Pakistan had previously said Mohammed Ajmal Amir Qasab's name was not listed in the national database of citizens.

The BBC's M Ilyas Khan in Islamabad says that it is not clear why the Pakistani authorities have taken so long to admit publicly what many officials long ago conceded in private.

But our correspondent says the Pakistani security establishment in particular has a reputation for dragging its feet when it comes to making any sort of military or political concessions to India.

Confirmation of the suspect's nationality comes after India provided Pakistan with a dossier of evidence which it said linked the Mumbai attackers and elements in Pakistan.

On Tuesday, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said that because of the "sophistication and military precision of the attack it must have had the support of some official agencies in Pakistan".

Pakistan rejected Mr Singh's allegations and accused India of raising regional tension.

Mohammed Ajmal Amir Qasab faces a number of charges including murder, attempted murder, waging war against a country and criminal conspiracy.

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