US ‘Warned India’:Mumbai

December 2, 2008

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The US warned India about a possible threat at least a month before last week’s Mumbai attacks, US media have quoted unnamed officials as saying.

One official said India had been told of an apparent plot to launch an attack from the sea, the AP agency reports.

The reports came as India’s navy chief said there had been “systemic failures” in the country’s security and intelligence services.

At least 188 people are now known to have died in the coordinated attacks.

The allegations are likely to add to the growing public anger that the attacks were not prevented.

India’s home minister and the chief and deputy chief ministers of Maharashtra state have all resigned amid criticism of the government’s handling of the crisis.

Two warnings

An Indian official appeared to confirm the US media reports that there was a known threat to at least some of the locations targeted, including the Taj Mahal Palace hotel.

Mumbai police chief Hassan Gafoor told a news conference on Tuesday that they had “had an alert that hotels like Taj could be exposed to such danger”.

ABC News quoted Indian officials as saying that after receiving the US warning, they also intercepted a satellite phone message on 18 November warning of a seaborne attack on Mumbai.

The city had been on high alert but security measures at the attacked hotels had recently been relaxed, the network reported.

ABC also reported that the Indian authorities had seized a mobile phone SIM card belonging to the attackers, which they said had led to a “treasure trove” of contacts and information.

Indian officials have repeatedly said there is evidence that the militants behind the attacks had Pakistani links.

Mr Gafoor said that the only captured militant, named as Azam Amir Qasab, was “certainly from Pakistan”.

Islamabad has offered India a joint investigation into the attacks but has denied any involvement and warned against attempts to inflame tensions in the region.

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