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 Monday, 25 November, 2002, 14:12 GMT
Lashkar-e-Toiba
Villagers carry bodies of victims of an attack on Sikhs in March 2000
The group has been linked to a series of attacks
Accusations from Delhi that Lashkar-e-Toiba militants are behind attacks on two Hindu temples in Indian-administered Kashmir come as no surprise.

The armed, separatist Sunni group has emerged as one of the most prominent of those involved in militant activities in Kashmir, and frequently finds itself blamed for violence there.

LeT founder, Hafiz Mohammad Saeed
The group's founder was released last week
Based in Pakistan, Lashkar-e-Toiba not only wants India out of Jammu and Kashmir, but seeks to restore Islamic rule across all parts of India.

Both Britain and the United States list it as a terrorist organisation.

It is believed to have recruited fighters trained in Afghanistan and to have links with al-Qaeda.

Most of its members are believed to be non-Kashmiri.

High-profile attacks

Lashkar-e-Toiba, whose name means Army of the Pure, is the militant outfit of Markaz-e-Tawatul Irshad - a religious seminary at Muridke in Pakistani Punjab.

An Indian policeman runs for cover during the attack on the Indian Parliament in December 2001
Parliament attack: Lashkar-e-Toiba blamed
The group has been active since the early 1990s and has had a real impact on the militant movement in recent years.

It gained prominence during and after the 1999 Kargil conflict when it targeted its attacks on Indian security forces in Indian-administered Kashmir.

It is also accused of carrying out a number of lethal attacks on civilians, including the murder of at least 35 Sikhs in Chattisinghpura in March 2000 during US President Clinton's visit to the region.

Lashkar-e-Toiba also says it carried out the attack inside Delhi's Red Fort in December 2000.

And it is blamed by India for an attack on parliament in Delhi a year later - which brought India and Pakistan to the brink of war.

Pakistan factor

When the Pakistan authorities recently freed the founder and former leader of the group, Hafiz Mohammad Saeed, India was predictably furious.

It had put him on a list of 20 most wanted men after the parliament attack, and called on Pakistan to end what it called cross-border terrorism.

Pakistan's President Musharraf, under immense international pressure, detained Mr Saeed and banned Lashkar-e-Toiba last January, along with a number of others.

Mr Saeed was released last week after the Lahore High Court ruled he was being held unlawfully.

One of his first acts on being freed was to declare that it was every Muslim's duty to wage jihad (holy war) in Kashmir.

India accuses Pakistan's intelligence agency, the ISI, of supporting Lashkar-e-Toiba operations in Kashmir.

  WATCH/LISTEN
  ON THIS STORY
  The BBC's Adam Mynott
"The finger of blame has been pointed at a militant organisation, Lashkar-e-Toiba"
Click here fror background reports and analysis

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21 Nov 02 | South Asia
23 Nov 02 | South Asia
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