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US, France Condemn Lakhvi’s Release

The Mumbai landmark Chattrapati Shivaji Railway Station on the 26/11 anniversary. AP photo | Rafiq Maqbool

WASHINGTON: The United States on Friday denounced the decision by Pakistani authorities to free the alleged mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai attacks, Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, on bail.

State Department spokesman Jeff Rathke said Washington was “gravely concerned” and had “communicated that concern to senior Pakistani officials over the course of many months and as recently as yesterday.”

“Terrorist attacks are an insult on the collective safety and security of all countries,” Rathke added.

Earlier, a Pakistani prison official confirmed that Lakhvi — wanted by India for his alleged leading role in a three-day onslaught on civilian targets in Mumbai that left 166 dead — had been released.

A judge first granted him bail in December. Pakistan´s government responded with a series of detention orders, but judges repeatedly cancelled them.

Then, on Thursday, the Lahore High Court ordered his release, conditional on a two million rupee ($20,000) bond.

French president tells Modi of ‘indignation’ at Mumbai ‘mastermind’ release

Meanwhile French President Francois Hollande told visiting Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday of his “indignation” after Pakistan freed the suspected mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai attacks.

In a speech in Paris on the first day of Modi´s visit, Hollande thanked the prime minister for his “solidarity” over the attacks in the French capital in January.

“In the same vein, I express to you my indignation each time that a terrorist is freed while he still has responsibility for an abominable act,” Hollande said.

An outraged India has described the release of Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, accused over the terror siege that left 166 dead, as an “insult” to the victims of the three-day onslaught on its financial capital, which was blamed on the banned Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT).

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