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'Return Kasab's body or we will target Indians'

The Pakistani Taliban today vowed to avenge the execution of Ajmal Kasab, the sole surviving gunman from the 2008 Mumbai attacks, as India called for extra security for its Islamabad embassy. The tacky bill | The heroes of 26/11 | Full coverage: Kasab Execution

world Updated: Nov 22, 2012 23:00 IST

The Pakistani Taliban vowed on Thursday to avenge the execution of Mohammed Kasab, the sole surviving gunman from the 2008 Mumbai attacks, as India called for extra security for its Islamabad embassy.

Kasab, a 25-year-old Pakistani, was hanged in Pune on Wednesday after being convicted of "waging war on India" for his role in the three-day assault on India's commercial capital, Mumbai, in which 166 people were killed.

The Pakistani Taliban said it wanted Kasab's body returned to Pakistan otherwise it would unleash reprisals, spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan told AFP by telephone from an undisclosed location.

"We will take revenge of Kasab's martyrdom," Ehsan said. "We strongly demand that his body be returned to Pakistan. If the body is not handed over (to the family) our reaction will be more severe."

Two men read newspapers displaying front page headlines on the execution of Mohammed Ajmal Kasab, the sole surviving gunman of the 2008 Mumbai attacks.

Indian officials said efforts had been made to contact Kasab's family in Pakistan before his death and added that no request for his body had been received from his relatives or the government.

A former labourer and small-time criminal, Kasab admitted to being a member of Pakistan-based militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba, but had no known links to the Pakistani Taliban.

The organisation has claimed responsibility and been blamed for hundreds of suicide and gun attacks in Pakistan since beginning an insurgency in 2007 against the US-allied government.

India notified Pakistan shortly ahead of Kasab's execution and asked for higher security for its embassy in Islamabad due to the risk of demonstrations or possible reprisals.

"We did ask for precautionary measures in terms of protecting our diplomats in Pakistan. We sent a missive to that effect," foreign minister Salman Khurshid told journalists late Wednesday.

A foreign ministry spokesperson confirmed that the demand had been made as "there was a need for extra security".

"State governments in India have also been told to be on high alert and we have upgraded our security measures in the border regions," a separate government official told AFP.

Kasab, who had his final appeal for clemency from the president turned down on November 5, was buried in grounds of the prison in Pune where he was executed.

A security officer takes a photograph of a sand sculpture depicting Mohammed Kasab with a hangman’s noose around him at a beach in Balasore, Odisha. (AP Photo)

His death prompted little official reaction from the Pakistan government, which issued only a short statement condemning terrorism.

Relations between the two rival nations appeared unaffected by the hanging of Kasab, though Indian media said the Pakistani masterminds behind the Mumbai attacks were still at large and must be brought to justice.

"Kasab was only a pawn in the greater game of proxy terror that Pakistan has been playing," the Hindustan Times said in an editorial. "The shadowy handlers who controlled the whole grisly operation from Pakistan are still around."

Pakistan charged seven men in 2009 over the Mumbai attacks, but insists it needs to gather more evidence in India before proceeding further.

Pakistani farmers gather around media representatives following the execution of Ajmal Kasab, who was the sole surviving gunman of the 2008 Mumbai attacks, at Kasab's village in Faridkot, some 370 kilometres southeast of Islamabad. (AFP Photo)

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Full coverage: Kasab Execution