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Mumbai attacks: India hangs Ajmal Kasab

New Delhi - 

The sole surviving gunman from the 2008 Mumbai attacks was executed Wednesday, nearly four years after 166 people were killed in a three-day rampage through India’s financial capital, an official announced.

Mohammed Kasab was hanged early Wednesday at Yerwada jail in Pune in the western state of Maharashtra after President Pranab Mukherjee rejected his mercy plea earlier this month.

“Kasab was shifted to Yerwada jail two days ago. He was hanged at 7:30 this morning (0200 GMT),” Maharashtra Home Minister RR Patil told reporters in Mumbai.

“His execution is a fitting tribute to the victims of Mumbai attacks,” Patil added at a news conference.

The Indian government said that it had informed Pakistan about the execution of Kasab.

“The external affairs ministry has informed the Pakistan government,” Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde told reporters in New Delhi.

It was not immediately clear whether Pakistan had been informed before or after Kasab was hanged on Wednesday morning.

“We maintained so much secrecy because it is necessary to keep secrecy in matters such as this,” Shinde said.

“Kasab was hanged… this morning at the Yerwada Central Jail (in Pune city).

“A very big incident happened in Mumbai in 2008. (A total of) 166 people lost their lives. Out of 10 accused, nine were killed. The one who was captured was tried under the laws of the land.”

Kasab was one of 10 gunmen who laid siege to the city in attacks that began on November 26, 2008, and lasted nearly three days.

He was sentenced to death in May 2010 after he was found guilty of a string of charges, including waging war against India, murder and terrorist acts.

He appealed in the Indian Supreme Court claiming he did not receive a fair trial but his petition was struck down in August.

During the 2008 attacks, the heavily armed gunmen stormed targets in Mumbai including luxury hotels, a Jewish centre, a hospital and a bustling train station.

Pakistan has admitted that the attacks were planned partly on its soil, but denies any official involvement. It charged seven alleged plotters behind the attacks in 2009 but has insisted more evidence is needed to convict them.

Kasab initially pleaded not guilty but later confessed, admitting he was one of the gunmen sent by the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT).

At his trial, the prosecution produced fingerprint, DNA, eyewitness and TV footage evidence showing him opening fire and throwing grenades at Mumbai’s main railway station in the bloodiest episode of the attacks.

India has executed just one person in 15 years – a former security guard hanged in 2004 for the rape and murder of a 14-year-old girl.

Prisoners can often languish for years on death row but there had been a huge clamour for Kasab’s execution.

During his appeal, Kasab argued that he was denied proper legal representation and that some charges against him were not proved beyond a reasonable doubt.

“I was denied a fair trial,” Kasab said in a statement when his appeal hearing began in January. “I may be guilty of killing people and carrying out a terrorist act but I am not guilty of waging war against the state.”

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