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2 men accused of providing SIM cards to Mumbai attackers

Last Updated: Saturday, December 6, 2008 | 1:45 PM ET

A man with his face covered, identified by the police as Mukhtar Ahmed, appears at a court in Calcutta, India, on Saturday.A man with his face covered, identified by the police as Mukhtar Ahmed, appears at a court in Calcutta, India, on Saturday. (Associated Press)

Indian authorities have announced the arrest of two men suspected of providing cellphone cards to the gunmen involved in last month's Mumbai attack.

The men were arrested on Friday, one in the eastern city of Calcutta, the other in New Delhi.

Police have accused the men of supplying the attackers with SIM cards, which store information and allow a user to connect their phone to a wireless network. Most large Indian cities have a thriving black market in cellphones and SIM cards.

Mumbai police officials earlier had traced some of the cards used in the Mumbai rampage to the state of West Bengal, whose capital is Calcutta.

Police in Calcutta identified the men they arrested as Tausif Rehman and Mikhtar Ahmed.

Rajeev Kumar, a top Calcutta police official, said Ahmed was from Srinagar, in the Indian portion of Kashmir, the disputed region at the root of much of the tension between India and Pakistan.

The public prosecutor in the city, Shashi Pathak, was quoted as saying it's believed Rehman, who lives in Calcutta, bought more than 20 SIM cards — 13 of them using the name of a dead person — and passed the cards on to Ahmed.

Pathak said "some of these cards" were used by gunmen in Mumbai during their assault, which began on the evening of Nov. 26 and ended after three days of firefights with Indian commandos.

The strike on India's financial capital left 171 dead and 239 wounded. Among the dead were two Canadians.

The sole surviving gunman in the attacks, Ajmal Amir Kasab, 21, has told interrogators he was sent by the banned Pakistani militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba, which has fought against India's control over part of Kashmir.

With files from the Associated Press
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