'Attackers are based outside India'

NEW DELHI - Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh says the attacks in Mumbai which killed more than 100 people were probably plotted by a group based in a neighbouring country.

The Indian government often blames Pakistan or sometimes Bangladesh for supporting or harbouring militant groups which have launched attacks on Indian soil.

A group calling itself the Deccan Mujahideen has claimed responsibility for the blasts.

On the surface, it could be presenting itself as an offshoot of the Indian Mujahideen group, domestic Muslim militants blamed for blasts on Indian cities this year and last.

But the sophisticated and well-coordinated nature of the attack suggests the group received training either from a military group or a well-established Islamist organisation like al-Qaeda.

The use of heavily armed fedayeen or suicide attackers bears the hallmarks of Pakistan-based militant groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba or Jaish-e-Mohammed, blamed for a 2001 attack on India's parliament.

Both were linked in the past to Pakistani military's Inter Services Intelligence agency.

Lashkar-e-Taiba has already denied any role in the attacks.

It is hard to imagine Pakistan's government supporting such an attack, but militants, possibly backed by rogue elements in the ISI, might want to undermine the India-Pakistan peace process and Pakistan's civilian government of President Asif Ali Zardari.

One of the attackers phoned an Indian television channel yesterday to complain that the Indian army was killing Muslims in disputed Kashmir. He spoke Urdu in what sounded like a Kashmiri accent. - Reuters