India Says Pakistan May Be Tied to Deadly Weekend Bombings

India’s Manmohan Singh made the comments during a phone call with Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf. Musharraf, who had called Singh to express his condolences, has denounced the bombings as “a dastardly terrorist attack” and has pledged his government will fully cooperate with the investigation.

“Pakistan stands with India,” Musharraf said at a press conference Monday.

For India’s part, Singh expressed determination to uncover who was behind the attacks.

“Violence against defenseless civilians can never be justified the prime minister said, and terrorism would never weaken India’s resolve, or our commitment to the country’s unity and territorial integrity,” the Indian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

“The prime minister again drew the president’s attention to Pakistan’s commitment to ending cross-border terrorism and said that we continue to be disturbed and dismayed at indications of the external linkages of terrorist groups with the Oct. 29 bombing, and said India expects Pakistan to act against terrorism directed at India.”

Although the statement indicated that Singh referred only to “external linkages,” Reuters reported Indian Foreign Ministry officials told their correspondent he was referring to Pakistan.

The first bomb exploded Saturday at the Paharganj Market in the city center shortly after 5:30 p.m. local time; a second struck Sarojini Nagar Market in south New Delhi a few minutes later; the last struck shortly thereafter near a bus in an industrial area called Govindpuri, also in the city’s south, the New York Times reported.

The bombings all struck areas crowded with pedestrians shopping ahead of key Hindu and Muslim holidays.

A man, who identified himself as Ahmed Yaar Ghaznavi, called a local news agency in the Indian-controlled portion of Kashmir to say Islamic Inquilab Mahaz, or Front for Islamic Uprising, had orchestrated the attacks.

Although the little known group claimed responsibility for the bombings, Indian officials have directed much of their attention to the Lashkar-i-Taiba, a Pakistani-based group fighting India’s control of the disputed Kashmir region.

But a spokesman for Lashkar leader Maulana Abdul Wahid told Reuters the group was not involved in the attacks.

“We are fighting Indian occupation forces in the occupied Kashmir but we are not involved in attacking civilians in any part of India,” the spokesman, who did not want to be named, told Reuters by telephone.

“We have nothing to do with this group.”

The attacks reminded some experts of the December 2001 attack on the Indian parliament in which 14 people died when gunmen tried to storm the New Delhi government building.

India blamed Lashkar-i-Taiba and Pakistan for the assault and relations between the two regional nuclear powers quickly degenerated. The two countries quickly built up forces along their border and by the summer of 2002 were on the verge of war. But the tensions subsided after Pakistan cracked down on militant groups operation within their borders.

For regional analysts, the fallout from Saturday’s attack may not be known for several days as India investigates who carried out the attack and from whom they may have received support.

One analyst said, former Indian army major Maroof Raza, told the BBC the attack may also be a sign of shifting tactics by the rebels.

“It is clear that the militant groups are trying to make a comeback,” he told the BBC News Web site. “It is also clear that they have shifted their focus, since it’s becoming increasingly difficult to successfully launch an attack on high-profile targets.”