Hafiz Saeed praises Pathankot air base attack, warns of escalation

hafiz-saeed-media Hafiz Saeed, mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai attacks.

A Pakistani firebrand cleric on Thursday praised the deadly Pathankot air base attack last month that threatened to scupper peace efforts between the nuclear rivals.

Hafiz Saeed, alleged mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai attacks and leader of the banned Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) group, encouraged further violence following the air base assault in Pathankot that left seven Indian soldiers dead.

Addressing a rally of around one thousand people in the disputed Pakistan-occupied Kashmir region, Saeed said: "800,000 Indian troops are committing genocide on Kashmiris. Don't they have a right to carry out Pathankot style attacks for their defence?"

Saeed, who remains a free man, also lauded Kashmiri militant leader Sayed Salahuddin, who heads the United Jihad Council (UJC) that has claimed responsibility for the attack.

"You have only seen one attack on Pathankot. Matters could easily escalate."

Crowds at the rally shouted slogans including "The war will continue until the liberation of Kashmir" and "We are ready for jihad".

Indian officials believe another group -- the Pakistan based Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) -- was behind the siege.

Saeed's freedom and his frequent calls for jihad against India has irk New Delhi, which considers JuD -- a UN designated "terror organisation" -- to be no more than a front for Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), the militant group blamed for the 2008 Mumbai attacks that left 166 people dead.

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