Probe into British link to Mumbai attacks
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The government said Friday it was too early to tell if Britons of Pakistani origin could be among the gunmen in the Mumbai attacks, but acknowledged it was "intensively" probing who was behind the plot. Skip related content
Foreign Secretary David Miliband said British detectives, who have already travelled to India, will work with their Indian counterparts to shed light on the source of the plot.
"We obviously will want to work very, very closely with the Indians on that, but it is too early to say whether or not any of them are British," he told Sky News television.
"Obviously, the priority of the Indian authorities is to complete this operation. They can then start identifying who are the terrorists, what is their background."
According to online newspaper reports, an Indian television news channel had reported that "British citizens of Pakistani origin" were among the attackers.
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said Thursday that those behind coordinated attacks against Mumbai were based "outside the country," which was widely interpreted as meaning neighbouring Pakistan.
Prime Minister Gordon Brown was cautious regarding a British link. "I would not want to be drawn into early conclusions about this," he said. "There is so much information still to be discovered and made available.
"But obviously when you have terrorists operating in one country they may be getting support from another country or coming from another country," he said, adding that he would speak to the Indian premier later in the day.
Responding to swirling rumours about where the Mumbai militants came from, anti-terror police in northern England issued a statement playing down any local links.
"At this stage we are not in receipt of any intelligence or information linking the events in India to our area," said the Leeds-based Counter Terrorism Unit of West Yorkshire Police.
Britain has a large Pakistani-origin population, concentrated in particular in northern England, which came under scrutiny after suicide bombings in London in July 2005. Three of the bombers were found to be from Leeds.
Miliband, who visited Pakistan last week, said British investigators would leave no stone unturned.
"In terms of the origins of the attack, the planning of the attack, the groups that were responsible for the attack, that is something we are intensively looking at," said Miliband.
Britain sent teams of police experts to Mumbai to help in the investigation the day after the attacks, a measure which the Foreign Office says is usual in such circumstances.
Metropolitan Police dispatched a team of forensic and explosive experts to Pakistan, after then-president Pervez Musharraf sought British help following the assassination of opposition leader Benazir Bhutto on December 27.
Home Secretary Jacqui Smith said London has "no knowledge" of any British links with the Mumbai attackers.
"We will do anything we can to help Indian authorities through what is obviously a very difficult time," she said. "We will do what is necessary. At the moment the priority is to support the immediate needs."