Mon, December 01, 2008
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News Analysis: Mumbai attacks reveal deep-rooted conflicts in India

2008-11-30 15:42:20 GMT2008-11-30 23:42:20 (Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

Indian people look at Taj Mahal Hotel where terrorist attack took place in Mumbai, India, Nov. 30, 2008. After the final siege at the Taj Mahal hotel, lives of people live in Mumbai began to return to normal. But the main areas, which were attacked by the terrorists, are still blocked by the police. (Xinhua/Liu Sui Wai)

Indian people look at Taj Mahal Hotel where terrorist attack took place in Mumbai, India, Nov. 30, 2008. After the final siege at the Taj Mahal hotel, lives of people live in Mumbai began to return to normal. But the main areas, which were attacked by the terrorists, are still blocked by the police.(Xinhua/Liu Sui Wai)

A shopkeeper cleans the shop near Nariman house where terrorist attack took place in Mumbai, India, Nov. 30, 2008. After the final siege at the Taj Mahal hotel, lives of people live in Mumbai began to return to normal. But the main areas, which were attacked by the terrorists, are still blocked by the police.(Xinhua/Liu Sui Wai)

Police block the way to Oberoi Hotel where terrorist attack took place in Mumbai, India, Nov. 30, 2008. After the final siege at the Taj Mahal hotel, lives of people live in Mumbai began to return to normal. But the main areas, which were attacked by the terrorists, are still blocked by the police. (Xinhua/Liu Sui Wai)

NEW DELHI, Nov. 30 (Xinhua) -- The terrorist attacks in India's financial capital Mumbai starting Wednesday night have shocked the world with their brazenness and brutality. The attacks have added to a mounting sense of insecurity in the city and people are still struggling to come to terms with the fallout from the three-day rampage.

India has witnessed deadly terrorist attacks almost every year ln recent years, with casualties running into thousands. Since a wave of bombings hit Jaipur in May, several large Indian cities, including New Delhi and Bangalore, all became targets of terrorist attacks, which resulted in heavy casualties and losses.

As India's financial capital and the most populous city, Mumbai has come under terrorist attacks three times in recent years, the previous two being in 1993 and 2006. The latest attacks were more serious in terms of their magnitude.

The attacks were well-planned and the gunmen were cold-blooded. They were well-equipped and trained. They hurled grenades, fired indiscriminately, took people hostage and attacked hotels and hospitals.

Experts point to the level of sophistication of the attacks and also note that foreigners were targeted for the first time in terrorist attacks in India.

Against a backdrop of intensified anti-terror efforts globally, there are deep-rooted causes behind the rampant terrorist activities in India.

Firstly, sectarian conflicts are serious in India. With many sects in the country, mostly belonging to Hindus and Muslims, many conflicts erupt between the two communities, fighting for different religious beliefs and their own interests.

A previously unknown group calling itself Deccan Mujahedeen claimed responsibility for the attacks, fueling speculation they might be linked to the Indian Mujahedeen formed by Islamic extremists, which had sent emails claiming responsibility for four attacks it said it mounted between November 2007 and September 2008.

Secondly, cross-border terrorism has become a major threat to the country's security. Bordering on Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh where some terrorist groups are operating, India is vulnerable to these attacks. The Kashmir separatists have grown more worried because of the improved ties between India and Pakistan and might have been involved the latest attacks in their bid to sabotage India-Pakistan relations.

Independent security analyst K. Subrahmanyam suggested that a primary motive for the Mumbai attacks could well have been a desire to "wreck the peace process" launched by India and Pakistanin January 2004.

The attacks, involving multiple targets and hostage-taking, bears "the hallmarks of Al-Qaeda attacks in the Middle East and North Africa", said former national security advisor Brajesh Mishra.

Thirdly, separatism is flourishing in India which has a vast territory, a large population and unbalanced economic development. The widening gap between rich and poor has triggered discontent among minorities and social conflicts are becoming more serious.

According to statistics from the Indian Interior Ministry, there are 275 terrorist groups in the country. For years, the government has been trying to ease conflicts through dialogue and negotiations, but the effort has not yielded much results.

The Mumbai attacks have dealt a heavy blow to the credibility of the ruling Congress party-led coalition government, especially in the run-up to the general elections scheduled for next year.

After the last militant was gunned down by the Indian commandos on Sunday, the public has been questioning the ineptness of some politicians and security loopholes. The Congress government was blamed by many for the loopholes that allowed the heavily-armed Islamist gunmen to come across the seas to land in Mumbai. Others decried the Hindu nationalist party BJP for seeking electoral advantage.

India's home minister and security minister both resigned on Sunday, taking responsibility for the deadly attacks.

The attacks were another blow to the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's cabinet, as public confidence in the government has been falling due to rising inflation at home and the global financial crisis. How to cope with the aftermath of the terror attacks would be an immediate challenge and serious test for the Singh cabinet.

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