KABUL – An Afghan intelligence official on Tuesday blamed the Pakistan-based militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba for last week's car bomb and suicide attacks that killed 16 people in the heart of Kabul
By Rahim Faiez, Associated Press Writer
KABUL – An Afghan intelligence official on Tuesday blamed the Pakistan-based militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba for last week's car bomb and suicide attacks that killed 16 people in the heart of Kabul.
The same militants have been fingered by India for the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks that killed 166 people.
Friday's assaults in the Afghan capital targeted residential hotels popular with foreigners, and six Indians were among the dead. The Afghan Taliban claimed responsibility within hours of the attacks, but the assertion that Pakistan-based militants were involved could jeopardize tentative peace talks between Pakistan and India that were relaunched only last week.
India pulled out of the talks after the Mumbai attacks, which ratcheted up tensions between the nuclear-armed rivals.
Saeed Ansari, a spokesman for Afghanistan's intelligence service, told The Associated Press on Tuesday that his agency has evidence that Pakistanis, specifically Lashkar-e-Taiba, were involved in the attacks. He said one of the attackers was heard speaking Urdu, a Pakistani language.
Lashkar-e-Taiba is one of several militant Islamist groups that Pakistan's military intelligence helped create in the 1980s, seeking to use them against archrival India and fight Indian rule in Kashmir, which both countries claim.
Ansari also said that the Taliban "had no knowledge" of the Kabul attacks up to five hours after they began.
However, an Afghan Taliban spokesman telephoned an Associated Press reporter about 2 1/2 hours after the attacks began Friday to claim responsibility and said foreigners were the target.
The Kabul attack came a day after India and Pakistan held their first official talks since the November 2008 Mumbai attacks. India insisted during the talks Thursday that Pakistan needed to make more aggressive efforts to rein in anti-Indian insurgents there.
Friday's assault was the deadliest in Afghanistan's capital since Oct. 8, when a suicide car bomber killed 17 people outside the Indian Embassy. A suicide car bomber killed more than 60 people in an attack at the gates of the Indian Embassy in July 2008.
India accused archrival Pakistan's main spy agency of involvement in the embassy asault.
But New Delhi did not immediately blame Pakistan after Friday's assault.
India sent a three-member team by air force jet to work with Afghan authorities investigating the attacks, Indian Ambassador Jayant Prasad said Tuesday.
"We've had a team here since the day after the attacks," Prasad said.