Twelve dead in Indian parliament suicide attack

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The Independent Online

A suicide squad came within 50 metres of massacring hundreds of MPs in India's parliament yesterday in a daring terrorist raid that threatened to drag the nuclear rivals India and Pakistan to war.

A suicide squad came within 50 metres of massacring hundreds of MPs in India's parliament yesterday in a daring terrorist raid that threatened to drag the nuclear rivals India and Pakistan to war.

Even as Islamabad hurriedly condemned the attack and Pakistan-based militant groups sought to distance themselves from it, some Indians called for raids on terrorist training camps over the border.

No group claimed responsibility for the attack, in which 12 people died and about 25 were injured, but ministers were quick to direct suspicion at Kashmiri militant groups linked to Osama bin Laden's al-Qa'ida network and hint at Pakistani responsibility.

The attackers engaged police in a 30-minute firefight that had MPs running for cover after they were stopped at a parliament entrance after sneaking into the complex in a stolen vehicle resembling an official car. The assault was the most high-profile terror attack in Delhi in years, and left Indians stunned and angry.

Afterwards army patrols sealed off the area around the parliament building as questions were asked about the security and how terrorists could get so close to their target.

The attack came just days after the Home Minister, L K Advani, warned of plans for a terrorist assault on parliament. It was disclosed last week that an alleged al-Qa'ida operative had been arrested in Bombay for plotting to attack the parliaments of India and Britain, as well as Australian targets.

Yesterday's attackers were suspected of wanting to assassinate Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the Prime Minister, who had been due to address the chamber of the upper house. But the men had been carrying dried food and mobile phones, suggesting they had planned to take some MPs hostage.

Politicians said there were similarities with the suicide raid on the Kashmir Assembly building in Srinagar in October, the work of Jaish-e-Mohammad, a radical group linked to al-Qa'ida. Mr Vajpayee addressed the nation last night, warning his citizens that they faced a "do or die" struggle against terrorism.

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