Mumbai attacks 'mastermind' Lakhvi bailed in Pakistan

  • Published
The Taj Mahal Palace Hotel during attacks on Mumbai in 2008Image source, AFP
Image caption,
The attacks in Mumbai lasted almost 60 hours, and saw numerous public buildings and locations attacked.

A man accused of masterminding the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks has been granted bail by a court in Pakistan.

Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi is one of seven men facing trial over the attacks in the Indian city, which left 165 people dead. Nine gunmen were also killed.

The attacks in Mumbai damaged peace efforts between India and Pakistan.

The bailing of Mr Lakhvi came a day after Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif vowed to end terrorism after the Taliban killed 141 people at a school in Peshawar.

Correspondents say the move will be an embarrassment for the Pakistani authorities who are under pressure to bring suspects in the case to justice.

Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi and his co-accused were arrested in 2008 and had filed bail applications on 10 December.

It remains unclear on what grounds the court ordered Mr Lakhvi's bail.

The attacks in Mumbai were blamed on the militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba, and Mr Lakhvi was accused of heading the group.

Another man, Zarar Shah, has been accused of working with him, and was arrested in Pakistani-administered Kashmir in December 2008, but his name does not appear alongside those being tried with Mr Lakhvi.

Nine other men have been also charged in absentia in relation to the attacks.

Image source, AP
Image caption,
Mr Lakhvi has been in Pakistani custody since 2008.

Mr Lakhvi was directed to pay surety bonds worth 1m rupees ($15,800; £10,100) before being released, his lawyer told Reuters.

The lawyer, Raja Rizwan Abbasi, told the PTI news agency that bail had been granted because the "evidence against Lakhvi was deficient".

Prosecutors are considering whether to challenge the ruling.

India, which provided intelligence intercepts which it said proved Laskhar-e Taiba's involvement in the attack, was swift to criticise Mr Lakhvi's release.

Home Minister Rajnath Singh described the granting of bail as "very unfortunate".

He said: "I believe it should not have happened... [The] Pakistan government must appeal against the order at the earliest."

Correspondents say the charges brought against Mr Lakhvi and other suspects held in Pakistan were mainly based on a confession given by the only gunman captured alive after the attacks.

Mohammad Ajmal Amir Qasab was executed in 2012.