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Monday, July 17, 2006

Powerful military explosive used in India

BOMBAY, India - Investigators said Monday that RDX — a military explosive favored by Islamic militants in India's part of Kashmir — was used in the deadly attack on Bombay's rail system.

The announcement by a leading investigator was seen as further evidence of a link between Pakistan-based militants and the July 11 attack that killed 182 people and wounded more than 800.

"The explosive used was a mixture of ammonium nitrate, RDX and fuel oil," said K.P. Raghuvanshi, leader of the anti-terrorist squad investigating the bombings.

Divided between India and Pakistan, predominantly Muslim Kashmir is at the heart of the two nations' rivalry, and the militants get at least a degree of support from Islamabad in their fight against New Delhi's rule over two-thirds of the Himalayan land.

No one has been arrested in the Bombay attacks, but investigators suspect Lashkar-e-Tayyaba, a Pakistan-based Muslim militant group blamed for a series of bombings in India. Lashkar is known for using RDX explosives.

Raghuvanshi declined to speculate on possible culprits, telling reporters only that investigators had fanned out across India to track down leads.

Earlier Monday, Bombay's police chief, A.N. Roy, said: "We believe the breakthrough will come soon."

India's suspicions of a Pakistani link have prompted New Delhi to slow a two-year peace process with its nuclear rival, and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has demanded a "firm commitment" from Pakistan on reining in the militants.

He said the peace process cannot move forward if terrorism "aided and abetted from outside" — a clear reference to Pakistan — continues to claim lives in India, the Press Trust of India news agency reported.

"There has to be a firm commitment that Pakistani territory is not used to support terrorist acts directed against our country ... but the commitment has to be backed by action on the ground," Singh was quoted as saying.

Singh spoke to reporters traveling with him to St. Petersburg, Russia, for the summit of the Group of Eight leaders of industrialized nations. He attended as an observer.

Pakistan denied having a hand in the blasts.

"Pakistan does not allow its territory to be used against any country. This is our firm policy and commitment," Riaz Mohammed Khan, Pakistan's foreign secretary, said Monday.

He added that India's postponement of scheduled bilateral talks this week between the two nations was a "negative development," but expressed hope the peace process would continue.

The nuclear rivals have fought three wars since their independence from Britain in 1947, including two over Kashmir. The Himalayan region is divided between the two countries, but claimed in its entirety by both.

The militants, who began their insurgency in 1989, are fighting to merge India's part of Kashmir with Pakistan or win its independence. There are now more than a dozen insurgent groups, and the insurgency has claimed about 65,000 lives.

India accuses Pakistan, which like Kashmir is overwhelmingly Muslim, of materially aiding the rebels. Pakistan says it only offers them moral and diplomatic support.
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