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Page last updated at 10:32 GMT, Thursday, 11 December 2008

India announces security overhaul

The interior minister said India 'cannot go back to business as normal'

The Indian government has announced a number of steps to strengthen internal security after the Mumbai attacks.

Interior Minister P Chidambaram said a national investigative agency would be launched, anti-terror laws beefed up and coastal security strengthened.

It is the government's first detailed response to the public outcry over the attacks which left at least 173 people dead, including nine of the 10 gunmen.

India says militants had Pakistani links and has urged Pakistani action.

Pakistan denies any involvement in the attacks, but has promised to co-operate with the Indian investigation.

It has been under tremendous Indian and American pressure to act.

The new Indian security plans were announced on the day a magistrate extended policy custody of the lone surviving gunman, Mohammed Ajmal Amir Qasab, until 24 December.

Challenge of terrorism

"We cannot go back to business as usual. We have to take hard decisions and prepare country and people to face the challenge of terrorism," Mr Chidambaram, the newly appointed Indian interior minister, told parliament.

Mohammed Ajmal Amir Qasab

He said a number of steps would be taken to bolster internal security.

• a national investigation agency would be set up

• vacancies in the country's intelligence agencies would be filled and they would be equipped with advanced equipment

• a coastal command would be set up to secure India's 7,500km-long coastline

• a total of 20 "counter-insurgency, anti-terrorism" schools would be set up in various parts of India to train to train police and security personnel

• commando forces to be set up in the states

• laws relating to terrorist acts would be beefed up

• money laundering laws to be strengthened

"We cannot go back to business as normal," Mr Chidambaram said.

The BBC's South Asia correspondent Chris Morris says India's security system has not been properly reformed in decades and is in urgent need of repair.

Communication between state and federal level is poor and the whole structure is under-resourced and under-staffed, he says.

But while few will argue with the need to overhaul the security system, the proposal for tougher anti-terror laws will be more controversial, our correspondent adds.

There will be political disagreements between the government and the opposition about how tough they should be and how they should be targeted, he adds.

UN ban

India's interior minister also reiterated the government's view that "the finger of suspicion unmistakeably points to the territory of our neighbour Pakistan" as the source of the attacks.

TEN NAMED GUNMEN
Named militants. Mumbai police website
Nasir, alias Abu Umar (Nariman House)
Abu Ali (Taj Palace)
Soheb (Taj Palace)
Fahad Ullah (Oberoi)
Mohammed Ajmal Amir Qasab (survived)
Bada Abdul Rehaman (above left, Taj Palace)
Abdul Rehaman Chota (above right, Oberoi)
Ismal Khan (CST station)
Babar Imaran (Nariman House)
Nazir, alias Abu Omer (Taj Palace)

Evidence gathered from the bodies of the dead gunmen and the boats they travelled to Mumbai indicated they were Pakistani nationals belonging to the militant group the Lashkar-e-Taiba, he said.

Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee told parliament Pakistan needed to demonstrate its commitment to root out militant groups in the country.

He said Pakistan's raid on the main Lashkar-e-Taiba camp in Pakistan-administered Kashmir on Sunday needed to be followed up "with the complete dismantling of the infrastructure facilities".

But he said attacking Pakistan was "no solution".

The UN Security Council has added four leaders of Lashkar-e-Taiba to a list of people facing sanctions for links with al-Qaeda and the Taleban. They face an assets freeze, travel ban and arms embargo.

The Security Council panel also said that the charity Jamaat-ud-Dawa was a front for Lashkar-e-Taiba and subject to sanctions.



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