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Saturday, 20 December 2008

Mumbai Massacre Carried Out By Brits

Police from the UK and India are probing claims that up to seven of the assassins, whose victims included a 13-year-old girl, travelled from the UK.

Indian security forces said at least two of the captured terrorists were British-born Pakistanis, while the total number could be as many as seven. In a sick twist, they are thought to have possible links to Yorkshire towns where the 7/7 outrages were plotted.

Last night UK police were using hi-tech computer software to link images of up to 25 gunmen to known Islamic fanatics.

The men were captured with eight others after commandos stormed two hotels and a Jewish centre to free hostages in the Indian finance capital.

A senior security official said: “There is mounting concern about the extent of British involvement in the attacks.

“Images of some of the gunmen are being studied in a bid to identify them. We are trying to see if this appalling event had roots in the UK.”

Prime Minister Gordon Brown said it was “too early” to reach any conclusions.

He added: “At no point has the Prime Minister of India suggested to me there is evidence at this stage of any terrorist of British origins, but obviously these are huge investigations that are being done.”

The developments put Leeds back in the terror spotlight. Two of the 7/7 suicide bombers – Shehzad Tanweer, 22, and Hasib Hussain, 18 – hailed from the city, while plot mastermind Mohammad Sidique Khan, 30, lived in nearby Dewsbury. Their 2005 attacks left 52 dead and 700 injured.

A previously unknown Islamic group, Deccan Mujahideen, has claimed responsibility for the Mumbai attacks but terror experts believe this could be a cover to mask links to al-Qaida.

A source at Counter Terrorism North confirmed they were probing possible links, but said they had “no specific information” linking suspects to the UK. However, dozens of Brit-born Pakistanis have travelled to the country to train in terror camps in recent years.

The security source added: “The camps in Pakistan are full and many inside are Brits.”

Meanwhile, it emerged yesterday that the Mumbai attackers killed a 13-year-old girl in cold blood as she cowered in a café with her dad.

American Naomi Scherr and her father Alan, 58, from Virginia, died as militants stormed the Oberoi-Trident hotel. They were on a spiritual trip to the city.

In all, 24 corpses were found at the Oberoi as the seige ended with the deaths of two gunmen. Dozens of hostages, including Brits and several European air crews, were freed from the Oberoi after a 41-hour ordeal.

One of the victims there was the sister of Bollywood actor Ashish Chowdhary, who wept as he heard the news.

Meanwhile, at the other targeted five-star hotel, the Taj Mahal, several terrorists were still holed up last night. And troops tracking them down said they had seen up to 50 blood-spattered bodies in the building.

It was also revealed that the England cricket team – who were meant to have been staying at the ravaged Taj Mahal hotel – could have been a target. The team only escaped after a last-minute decision to go to Bangalore.

Former captain Michael Vaughan, 34, said: “It was only at the last minute that our training camp was switched.

“We could have been in one of those hotels when it was attacked. All our kit is at the Taj Mahal. That’s how close the danger is.”

Reports said some of the terrorists at the hotels had posed as workers and tourists, so could continue their attacks when civilians had been herded to “safety”.

We told yesterday how Brit millionaire Andreas Liveras, 73, died in the carnage, when militants attacked 10 targets.

Last night it was feared more Brits’ bodies could be found and official sources said the overall death toll could top 200.

One focus of the destruction was the headquarters of an ultra-Orthodox Jewish group, Chabad-Lubavitch.

When troops blasted their way into the building they found five hostages had been killed, including Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg, 29, and his wife Rivka, 28.

Their 18-month-old son Moshe was smuggled out of the centre by a worker.

A senior Indian police official told how the baby-faced terrorists, who arrived in Mumbai by sea, looked young but were “very determined and remorseless” and had been trained to kill.

“They were wearing T-shirts, just ordinary-looking, but they had definitely been trained to use weapons.”

Last night India’s foreign minister blamed Pakistanis for the attacks, but that was denied by officials there.