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Suspects in Mumbai attacks arrested

PAKISTAN acknowledged for the first time that the Mumbai terrorist attacks were launched from its shores and at least partly plotted there, saying yesterday it had arrested most of the chief suspects including one described as "the main operator."

Interior Ministry chief Rehman Malik said Pakistan has started criminal proceedings against eight suspects ?? some of whom were also named by India as the masterminds of the attacks ?? but he reiterated that authorities needed more evidence from New Delhi to secure convictions.

The revelations suggest Pakistan is serious about punishing those behind the November attacks, which killed 164 people and stirred fear that the nuclear-armed neighbors could slide toward war and that Pakistan might be distracted from its struggle against al-Qaida and the Taliban.

India and the United States have pressed Pakistan hard to dismantle Lashkar-e-Taiba, a banned Pakistan-based group fighting Indian rule in the divided Kashmir region that is widely blamed for the Mumbai carnage. Islamabad and New Delhi have fought two out of their three wars since 1947 over the region.

India's Foreign Ministry called Pakistan's announcement "a positive development" and said it would consider Islamabad's request for further information.

Malik said investigators had traced a boat engine used by the attackers to travel from Pakistan to India and busted two hideouts of the suspects near Karachi.

Other leads pointed to Europe and the US, and Malik said Pakistan would ask the FBI for help.

"I want to assure the international community, I want to assure all those who have been victims of terrorism that we mean business," Malik said.

India says all 10 gunmen - of whom only one was captured alive - were Pakistanis and that their handlers in Pakistan kept in touch with them by phone during the attack.

Malik said six of the suspects were in custody, including Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi and Zarrar Shah, both Lashkar-e-Taiba leaders named by India as the masterminds of the attack.


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