India among countries worst hit by terror: US report

via PTI published on May 2, 2008

Washington: India was among the countries worst affected by
terror with militant attacks in Jammu and Kashmir and in the Northeast, strikes
by Naxalites and attacks elsewhere in the country taking a toll of more than 2,300 lives in 2007, the US State department said.

The State department, in its annual report on terrorism, said terrorist
activities along the Line of Control in Jammu
and Kashmir are on the decline but Pakistan-based
militant outfits like the Lashkar-e-Toiba and other terrorist groups continue
to plan attacks in the valley.

“Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Toiba and other Kashmir-focused groups continued
regional attack planning. In 2007, Kashmir-focused groups continued to support
attacks in Afghanistan,
and operatives trained by the groups continued to feature in Al-Qaeda
trans-national attack planning,” it said.

The report said Indian government’s counterterrorism efforts remained
hampered by outdated and overburdened law enforcement and legal systems.

“The Indian court system was slow, laborious, and prone to corruption.
Terrorism trials can take years to complete. Many of India’s local police forces were
poorly staffed, lacked training, and were ill-equipped to combat terrorism
effectively,” the report said.

Noting about the attack on Samjhauta express in February last year, the report
said, it was carried out by extremists who tried to incite anger among the
Hindus and Muslims.

“These attacks, which killed and injured both Muslims and Hindus, were
probably conducted by extremists hoping to incite anger between the Hindu and
Muslim communities.

“Indian officials claim that the perpetrators of these attacks have links
to groups based in Pakistan
and Bangladesh,
particularly Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad, and Harkat-ul-Jihad Islami,
among others,” the report said. “These groups also have links to
terrorist activity in Jammu and
Kashmir. The number of civilians killed were
approximately half of that in the previous year.

“In May, the Indian government acknowledged that the level of infiltration
across the Line of Control had fallen, but noted that insurgents had in some
case shifted routes to enter India
through Bangladesh and Nepal,” it
said.

The report also took note of the formation of the anti-terrorism mechanism
between India and Pakistan to
coordinate and exchange information on terrorists.

“Pakistan’s leaders
took steps to prevent support to the Kashmiri militancy, and the number of
violent attacks in Kashmir was down by
approximately 50 per cent from 2006, according to public statements made by the
Indian Defence Minister,” the report said.

The report also took note of the US-India Joint Working Group on Terrorism
(CTJWG) which has so far met nine times since its formation in 2000.

India participated in CTJWGs
with 15 other countries, and in multilateral CTJWGs with the EU and with the Bay
of Bengal Initiative for Multisectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation, an
organisation that promotes economic cooperation among Bangladesh, India,
Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand,
Bhutan and Nepal.

In October, the Indian government held the second round of consultations with Pakistan under
the bilateral counterterrorism joint mechanism, and hosted a ministerial level
meeting of the South Asia Association for Regional Cooperation on
Counterterrorism,” it said.

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