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Mumbai Rocked by Blasts, Potentially Adding to U.S.-Pakistan Tensions Mumbai Rocked by Blasts, Potentially Adding to U.S.-Pakistan Tensions

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FOREIGN AFFAIRS

Mumbai Rocked by Blasts, Potentially Adding to U.S.-Pakistan Tensions

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Indian bystanders gather around a damaged vehicle at a bomb blast site in the Dadar District of Mumbai on July 13, 2011.  Multiple blasts have rocked India's financial hub Mumbai, police said, in what the Home Ministry described as a "terror strike". At least two people were killed and 100 injured in three separate blasts in the Indian commercial capital Mumbai, the home ministry said. AFP PHOTO/Sujit JAISWAL (Photo credit should read SUJIT JAISWAL/AFP/Getty Images)(SUJIT JAISWAL/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)

Three large bombs tore through Mumbai’s financial district on Wednesday, killing at least 13 people and immediately raising questions about whether Pakistani-based militants were responsible for the attack. The strikes, which wounded more than 100 people, are the first major assault on India’s largest city since the coordinated series of terror strikes in 2008 that killed 164 people and shut down the city for hours.

Indian security officials in New Delhi, speaking on domestic television stations, said the near-simultaneous explosions were a “terror strike.” Within India, suspicion immediately fell to Lashkar-e-Taiba, the Pakistani-based terror group that had carried out the bloody 2008 strike. No one has yet claimed responsibility for Wednesday’s bombings, which hit a crowded opera house and portions of the city’s financial district. Indian officials—mindful of the combustible nature of their tense and occasionally violent relationship with neighboring Pakistan—said they were still investigating the explosions and didn’t yet know who was responsible.

 

President Obama, in a statement released on Wednesday, condemned the attacks. 

"The American people will stand with the Indian people in times of trial, and we will offer support to India’s efforts to bring the perpetrators of these terrible crimes to justice," Obama said.

Wednesday's attacks could pose difficult policy questions for both the U.S. and India, close allies bound by a shared uncertainty on what to do about Pakistan. If the bombs turn out to have been planted by Lashkar-e-Taiba, India and the U.S. will face strong internal pressures to take much harsher steps against Pakistan at a time when the U.S.-Pakistani relationship is already at a historic low.

 

Obama administration officials decided in recent days to hold up more than $800 million in military aid to Pakistan amid continuing anger in Washington about Osama bin Laden’s ability to live undetected in a Pakistani garrison town for years and Islamabad’s unwillingness to take stronger steps against groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba. The U.S. has also publicly accused the Pakistani government of sanctioning the abduction and murder of a crusading Pakistani journalist.

Pakistan, for its part, has kicked hundreds of U.S. and British security trainers out of the country and threatened to close down a covert base used for CIA drone strikes against Pakistan’s militants. More worrisomely, some Pakistani officials have spoken publicly about cutting off the U.S. supply routes into Afghanistan, the main conduit for food and other supplies bound for Western troops fighting there.

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