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India remembers Mumbai dead

By Harmeet Shah Singh, CNN
Indians light candles during a vigil to remember the 166 people killed in a terrorist attack on Mumbai in 2008.
Indians light candles during a vigil to remember the 166 people killed in a terrorist attack on Mumbai in 2008.
  • Prime minister: "We will never succumb to the designs of our enemies"
  • 164 people were killed in the attack, which lasted three days
  • Ten gunmen stormed hotels, a train station and a Jewish center
  • Nine of them were killed; the other was captured

New Delhi, India (CNN) -- Indians marched for peace, prayed and laid wreaths Friday in memory of the Mumbai terror attack as the nation's prime minister vowed renewed efforts to track down those behind the assault, which is blamed on Pakistan-based militants.

"We will never succumb to the designs of our enemies. We pledge to redouble our efforts to bring the perpetrators of this crime against humanity to justice," Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said in a statement issued as the nation remembers the dead from the November 2008 siege of India's financial hub.

The attack derailed the fragile peace process between nuclear-capable arch-foes India and Pakistan. Under U.S. pressure, the two neighbors resumed talks this year in a bid to restart a full dialogue, but progress has been slow.

In the coordinated onslaught, 10 gunmen stormed three hotels, a train station and a Jewish cultural center in Mumbai, killing 164.

On the second anniversary of the attacks, Indian Home Minister P. Chidambaram paid homage to the police officers who died in the assault, including one killed tackling one of the militants.

That militant, Mohammed Ajmal Kasab of Pakistan, is the only surviving gunman. He has been convicted of murder, conspiracy and waging war against India. His lawyers have appealed his death sentence to a higher court of Mumbai.

"On this day of remembrance, we salute the courage, unity and resolve of ordinary Mumbaikars and the brave and selfless actions of our men in uniform during the attack," Singh said in his statement. "It is this spirit and strength of character of the Indian people that will defeat such forces that seek to threaten our social fabric and way of life."

Prithviraj Chavan, chief minister of Maharashtra state, of which Mumbai is the capital, also offered homage Friday at the city's Victoria Terminus railway station, one of the sites that came under attack.

A peace march and a multi-faith prayer session were held at the seaside Gateway of India monument, said Chavan's spokesman, Satish Lalit.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sent a message of solidarity Thursday to mark the assaults.

"As the people of the United States gather with family to celebrate Thanksgiving, we pause to remember the horrific attack on innocent men, women and children that occurred in Mumbai two years ago," her message said. "Now, as then, the American people stand in solidarity with the people of India and honor those who lost their lives.

"President Obama's recent visit to India underscored our nations' shared belief in liberty, democracy and mutual respect for all people. As the people of Mumbai gather in temples, mosques, churches, gurdwaras and synagogues to honor those who perished on November 26, 2008, they send a message of resolve, resilience and mutual respect that is far louder and more powerful than any terrorist's guns and bombs."

The Pakistan-based militant group Lashkar-e-Tayyiba has been blamed for the siege. The group has denied responsibility.

Earlier this week, family members of two New Yorkers gunned down during the attacks said they are suing Pakistan's intelligence agency and Lashkar-e-Tayyiba.

Relatives of Rabbi Gavriel Noach Holtzberg and his pregnant wife, Rivka, both of whom died in the siege, allege that Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence agency aided the al Qaeda-allied militant group in the attacks.

The wrongful death lawsuit, filed in federal court in New York, says the intelligence agency "provided critical planning, material support, control and coordination for the attacks."

The family members seek monetary damages, but did not specify an amount.

Their lawyer, James Kreindler, was part of a successful lawsuit against Libya in connection with the 1988 explosion on Pan Am Flight 103. That blast killed 259 people over Lockerbie, Scotland, as well as 11 people on the ground.

In January, more than a year after the attacks, the bodies of the nine slain Mumbai gunmen were buried in secret. Their bodies had been embalmed and kept in a hospital morgue because some Muslim groups refused to bury them in their graveyards, saying the attackers were not true followers of Islam.

An Indian official in Maharashtra state revealed the burials months later. P.K. Jain, the state's principal home secretary, did not give the date or the exact location of what he described as a secret funeral.