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Last of Mumbai gunmen hanged in secret

FOUR years after playing his part in carrying out the worst terrorist attack in Indian history, Ajmal Kasab, the lone surviving gunman from the 2008 assault on Mumbai, was secretly hanged in an Indian jail in Pune yesterday.

When authorities announced the execution of the Pakistani national it was met with celebration on the streets.

"All the police officers and personnel who lost their lives in the battle against the terrorists have today been served justice," said the Home Minister, Sushil Kumar Shinde, in Delhi.

Tough

In Pakistan, the secret hanging, codenamed "Operation X", was seen as an attempt by the Indian government to prove itself tough on terrorism. India is waiting for Islamabad to bring to justice the Pakistani masterminds of the attacks.

The 2008 attacks, which killed 166 people, remain a painful wound in the India-Pakistan relationship. During the siege, Kasab was famously photographed in Mumbai's main railway terminus where he and an accomplice killed 52 people.

He was charged with 86 offences, including murder and waging war against the Indian state, and was sentenced to death in 2010.

Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, a spokesman for India's main opposition party, said the execution "sends out a strong message and warning to India's enemies and to forces across the border that are running factories of terrorism".

Meanwhile, Lashkar-e-Taiba, the jihadist group that sent Kasab and the nine other gunmen from Pakistan to Mumbai in late November 2008, called Kasab a "hero" and vowed to carry out more attacks.

Another major attack would shatter the halting peace talks between the two nuclear-armed neighbours. (© Independent News Service)

Irish Independent