Obama: Terrorists will not defeat Indian democracy
US president-elect Barack Obama late Friday declared that India's "great democracy" and the global coalition against terrorism would stand united in the face of massive terrorist attacks in India's commercial capital Mumbai, dpa reported.
"These terrorists who targeted innocent civilians will not defeat India's great democracy, nor shake the will of a global coalition to defeat them," Obama said in a statement.
Non-governmental estimates have put the death toll between 140-160 since terrorists attacked at least nine different sites simultaneously late Wednesday night in Mumbai. Indian police commandos continued to battle terrorists in at least one hotel, and have killed or captured a number of other suspects.
In other reactions in the US, CNN reported that the US federal police, the FBI, has opened a case on the attacks and was preparing a team to fly to Mumbai to help with the investigation if the Indian government approves.
Pakistan's ambassador to the United States, Husain Haqqani, suggested in a CNN interview that the attacks were the work of the al-Qaeda terrorist network, given the signature of simultaneous, multiple attacks.
"It would not be appropriate for me to say al-Qaeda. But it was ... definitely someone related to ... or inspired by al- Qaeda," he said.
Haqqani echoed Pakistani government officials' earlier denials that their country was in anyway officially involved in the attacks - a suggestion that Indian officials have made.
The United States, especially Obama's incoming government, was counting on the success of the recent peace process between India and Pakistan to make Pakistan divert its attention from Kashmir, where it has supported Islamist separatists, to the fight against Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters launching cross-border attacks on international forces in Afghanistan.
But the lethal attacks in Mumbai and the following deficit in trust between India and Pakistan could hamper such efforts to increase regional cooperation to beat the terrorists.
Obama, who will be inaugurated January 20, has been kept abreast of the situation by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
"The United States must stand with India and all nations and people who are committed to destroying terrorist networks, and defeating their hate-filled ideology," Obama said.
He and future first lady Michelle Obama also expressed condolences to American citizens who lost their lives in the "outrageous" attacks.
The American dead include a father and daughter - Alan Scherr, 58, and his daughter Naomi, 13 - and a rabbi and his wife who held dual US-Israel citizenship.