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2008年11月29日 (土)


2008/11/29 --The Asahi Shimbun, Nov. 28(IHT/Asahi: November 29,2008)

EDITORIAL: Terrorism in Mumbai


A series of major terrorist attacks hit Mumbai, the commercial center of India's fast growing economy. Armed groups carrying automatic firearms and hand grenades attacked a number of targets, including high-class hotels, in the western Indian city Wednesday.



They killed more than 100 people, including a Japanese businessman, and took hotel guests hostage. It is an unforgivable and atrocious act.


Mumbai was also the site of a series of terrorist incidents that targeted evening rush-hour trains in July 2006. The attacks claimed about 200 lives.


At the time, the Indian side blamed a Pakistan's intelligence agency and Islamic extremists under its influence, but the Pakistani side denied the allegations. The two countries have been at odds in a long-standing territorial dispute over the Kashmir region. Terrorist attacks believed to be linked to the dispute have occurred frequently in the past.


Since around last year, acts of terrorism believed to have been carried out by Indian Islamic extremist organizations have occurred successively in major cities.


This time, an organization calling itself Mujahedeen (fighters of jihad) of the Deccan Plateau in southern India claimed responsibility for the attacks.


Some people say that the way the terrorists tried to take Americans and Britons hostage suggests the armed group may be under the influence of the international terrorist organization al-Qaida, which advocates "jihad against American and European domination."


The situation of India, which is frequently targeted by terrorists, is becoming increasingly complex. But one thing is clear. At the root of the problem is religious antagonism within the country. Hindus make up 80 percent of India's population of more than 1.1 billion, of which slightly more than 13 percent are Muslims.



In conflicts stemming from religious antagonism in India, Muslims have often been the victims. While India's economy has grown rapidly, its Muslim society has been left behind, and the gap with Hindu society is widening.


India first needs to squarely face these problems, which provide a breeding ground for extremists, and promote social harmony.


We cannot overlook the fact that the incidents occurred at a time when India and Pakistan were moving to improve relations.


Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari met for the first time in September. During the meeting, they agreed to resume peace negotiations over the Kashmir dispute and to set up a consultative organization to look into terrorist acts with suspected Pakistani involvement.


Just this month, President Zardari declared a "no first use" policy concerning the country's nuclear weapons and called on India to form an economic alliance.


Although it is unclear whether the terrorist attacks Wednesday are related to the Pakistani situation, they could hamper such moves for reconciliation. The stability of the two nations is also indispensable to advancing the war on terrorism in Afghanistan.


India prides itself as "the world's largest democracy" and has always attained a change of government through elections since its foundation in 1947. We urge India to bring the situation under control as soon as possible and to do everything in its power to settle its problems.



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