India: Mumbai attacker hanged after president rejects final appeal

An Indian policeman confiscates an effigy of Pakistan-born Mohammed Kasab, who was the sole surviving gunman of the 2008 Mumbai attacks, as activists celebrate his execution in Mumbai on November 21, 2012.

Ajmal Kasab, the sole surviving terrorist from the November 26, 2008 attacks on Mumbai, was hanged Wednesday morning in an unannounced ceremony at Pune's Yerwada Jail.

The Times of India quoted home secretary R K Singh as saying, "Family members of Kasab informed about the hanging through a letter sent by courier."

Kasab was shifted to the Yerwada Jail following the rejection of his mercy petition by the Indian president on November 5, the paper said.

"The punishment to Kasab is a true tribute to the victims and martyrs of the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks," Maharashtra home minister R R Patil said.

In January 2010, nine of Kasab's accomplices, who had been killed during the attacks, were quietly buried at an undisclosed location near Mumbai, the paper said.

Kasab's execution came just five days before the fourth anniversary of the attacks on Mumbai, whic killed 166 people and injured 300.

On November 26, 2008, Kasab and at least nine accomplices launched coordinated assaults on 11 different locations across Mumbai, allegedly receiving telephone instructions from Pakistan's Inter-services Intelligence agency (ISI) as well as the banned terrorist organization Lashkar-e-Toiba during the attacks. Lasting three full days, the attacks hit the bustling Chhatrapati Shivaji train station, the Oberoi Trident hotel, the Taj Mahal Palace hotel, among other locations.

With terrorists and hostages trapped inside by police and special forces, the protracted siege of the Taj hotel was captured on live television, as viewers across India and around the world watched in transfixed horror.

For Indians, Kasab's execution will provide a measure of closure--though India continues to pressure Pakistan to act against the alleged planners of the assault.