India is certain about foreign link to New Delhi bombings

As New Delhi prepares for the ordinarily joyous Hindu festival of lights, India's prime minister expressed concerns there were foreign links to the bombings at two of the capital's markets - a veiled reference to Pakistan-based militants.

In the hours before the start of Diwali, markets normally crowded with families buying sweets and readying firecrackers for evening celebrations were largely empty, save for dejected shop owners and well-armed police.

The bombs tore through two markets Saturday, killing 59 people and scaring many away from New Delhi's shopping districts during one of the busiest retail seasons of the year - the period ahead of Diwali, which falls on Tuesday.

At the Bengali market, few people were around to buy Dinesh Gupta's chocolates, dried fruit and nuts, which he had laid on the pavement in front of his shop.

During a phone call Monday, India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh reminded Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf of his country's promise to fight terrorism, a spokesman for the Indian prime minister said.

Musharraf had earlier in the day condemned terrorism and pledged full cooperation in the bombing investigation, which came three weeks after a mammoth quake that ripped through the Himalayan region, and helped draw India and Pakistan together.

He then called Singh to express his condolences, and the Indian leader told Musharraf that the investigation into Saturday's bombings indicated "external linkages of terrorist groups" with the attacks.

But he refused to publicly single out Pakistan, even as Indian analysts and newspapers pointed the finger at Pakistani-based Islamic groups fighting to force India to give up its claim to divided Kashmir.

Investigators are tracking the scant leads that have emerged, officials and news reports said Tuesday.

A little-known Kashmiri group, Islamic Inquilab Mahaz, took credit Sunday for the attack.

The attacks came at a particularly sensitive moment as India and Pakistan hashed out an unprecedented agreement to partially open the heavily militarized frontier that divides the disputed territory of Kashmir to speed relief to victims of the region's Oct. 8 earthquake, the AP reports.


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