MUMBAI, India — In a new sign of rising tensions between two nuclear-armed neighbors, Indian diplomatic officials summoned Pakistan’s ambassador on Monday evening and told him Pakistanis were responsible and must be punished for last week’s terrorist attacks here, in which 188 people were killed over three days in the heart of India’s commercial capital.
The Indian officials told the ambassador, Shahid Malik, that they expected “strong action would be taken” against those responsible for the attack, according to a statement released by India’s Ministry of External Affairs.
The statement added tartly that Pakistan’s actions “needed to match the sentiments expressed by its leadership that it wishes to have a qualitatively new relationship with India.”
Pakistani officials have said that they are not aware that the attackers had any links to Pakistan-based militant groups, and that they would act swiftly if they found one. The attacks have raised tensions between the countries to a level not seen since 2001, when an attack on the Indian Parliament pushed them to the brink of war.
The United States sought to intervene to calm hostilities between India and Pakistan, nuclear-armed neighbors who have fought three wars in the past.
As questions still remained about whether more than 10 gunmen were involved in the conspiracy, the United States sent Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to India, and speaking on her way in London she called on Pakistan in blunt terms “to follow the evidence wherever it leads.”
“I don’t want to jump to any conclusions myself on this, but I do think that this is a time for complete, absolute, total transparency and cooperation,” Ms. Rice, who was due to arrive in India on Wednesday, said, referring to Pakistan’s help in the investigations.
Indian forces killed nine attackers and captured one during the rampage, but it was still unclear whether more remained at large and whether the attackers had at least some accomplices already positioned on the ground before the assaults began.
The single captive gunman, who is said to have identified himself as Ajmal Amir Qasab, a Pakistani citizen, has told police officials that more than 10 may have been involved, although his testimony has been inconsistent. Investigators with the Indian Anti-Terror Squad say they believe that accomplices may have left weapons at the hotels for the gunmen, and that names and telephone numbers of five Mumbai residents were found in the cellphones and wallets of the attackers.
Reuters and other news agencies reported on Monday that the captive gunman had also said that he belonged to the Pakistani-based Lashkar-e-Taiba organization, blamed for attacks in Indian-administered Kashmir and elsewhere, and that he was trained at a camp in Pakistan, by a former Pakistani military official. Indian officials have also confirmed that a satellite phone belonging to the attackers was used to call a phone number in the Pakistani city of Karachi during the assault.
Despite the allegations that groups based in Pakistan had some involvement in the attacks, Indian officials have not explicitly blamed the Pakistani government. The options on the table for responding, officials and political analysts said, range from the suspension of diplomatic relations to the most extreme and least likely, a cross-border raid into Pakistan against suspected training camps for militants.
Pakistan has denied any role in the attacks, calling them a “barbaric act of terrorism.” And an Monday, in response to the attacks and India’s charges, the Pakistani prime minister, Yousaf Raza Gilani, spoke on television, saying the terrorists had no links to any government, and were “nonstate actors,” according to The Associated Press.
Despite repeated assertions by Pakistan’s government that it bore no responsibility, the attacks have raised the pitch of India-Pakistan tensions to their most dangerous level in years. Not since the December 2001 suicide attack on the Indian Parliament in New Delhi, which India said was the work of Pakistani groups, have there been such blunt Indian accusations about outlaws based across the border. That episode prompted the two countries to send their armies to the border, prompting fears of war.
On Sunday, a senior government official said Mr. Singh’s administration would have to consider a variety of measures to show toughness toward Pakistan. “The government is under pressure; we are taking steps,” the official said. “We’re not trying to say we’re going to attack them. Short of that everything will have to be pursued.”
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the delicacy of the situation, said, “Certainly we are not going to sit back with Pakistan unleashing this terror on India.”
Most of the killing took place in two luxury hotels, the Taj and the Oberoi. At least 28 of the dead were foreigners, including at least 6 Americans and 8 Israelis killed at a Jewish religious center that had been seized by the attackers.
As all the bodies, finally, were pulled from the Taj Mahal hotel on Monday, the Indian public, angry and anguished over the bloody attack on their most glamorous and cosmopolitan city, pressed government officials to explain how a small band of terrorists could have unleashed such violence.
The questioning became pointed enough that on Monday, Mr. Deshmukh, the chief minister of Maharashtra State and a member of the governing Congress Party, offered to resign. Party leaders were considering his offer on Monday night.
“I accept moral responsibility for the terror attacks,” he said at a news conference.
Earlier in the day, his deputy, R. R. Patil, officially stepped down. Mr. Patil’s departure and Mr. Deshmukh’s offer came a day after the country’s top domestic security official, Mr. Patil, resigned in disgrace over the failure to thwart or quickly contain the horrific attacks.
On Monday, his successor, the new Indian home minister, Palaniappan Chidambaram, the former finance chief, briefly addressed reporters, in an aggressive statement saying that India would “respond with determination” to the attacks.
“I want to assure the people of India, on behalf of the government, that we will respond with determination and resolve to the grave threat posed to the Indian nation,” he said. “This is the threat to the very idea of India, the very soul of India, the India that we know, the India that we love — namely a secular, plural, tolerant and open society. I have no doubt in my mind that ultimately the idea of India will triumph.”
India’s government also announced several measures to bolster antiterrorism efforts and struggled to calibrate a response to what it viewed as Pakistani complicity.
The chief of the Maharashtra state’s police, A. N. Roy, said Monday on an Indian TV station, NDTV, that an investigative team from the Federal Bureau of Investigation had begun working in Mumbai.
Mr. Patil, the home minister, became the first senior official in Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s administration to leave office over the Mumbai attacks, which have traumatized the nation for their audacity and have laid bare glaring deficiencies in India’s intelligence and enforcement abilities.
The pressures on the government are especially acute with elections only six months away. While there was no immediate suggestion of Pakistani-Indian hostilities, it is clear that India must carefully consider how to deal with its concerns about Pakistan.
On the one hand, public pressure compels Mr. Singh’s administration to take a tough stance, at least publicly. On the other hand, his government may not want to squander a chance at negotiating peace with Pakistan’s elected civilian government.
In any event, the mere idea of Indian-Pakistani hostilities cannot bring much comfort to Washington, which needs Pakistan’s attention on curbing radical groups on the Afghan border. At the same time, particularly with elections looming, Indian officials are keenly aware of the need to shore up confidence in the domestic security apparatus.
On Sunday, Mr. Singh said his government would expand the National Security Guards, the elite antiterrorist unit that sent commandos to flush out the attackers from the two hotels and the Jewish center.
Mr. Singh also said that discussions were under way to establish a federal agency of investigation to streamline the work of state and national agencies, and fortify maritime and air security. The police have said the attackers came by boat.
The Indian government had been warned as far back as March 2007 of infiltration by sea. “Clearly, much more needs to be done,” Mr. Singh said, “and we are determined to take all necessary measures to overhaul the system.”
The chairman of the Tata Group, the conglomerate that owns the Taj hotel, asserted that it had been warned about the possibility of a terrorist attack and had taken some measures, but that the assailants knew exactly how to penetrate the hotel’s security.
“They came from somewhere in the back; they planned everything,” the chairman, Ratan Tata, said in an interview broadcast Sunday on CNN. “They went through the kitchen; they knew what they were doing.”
In a telephone interview, the junior home minister, Shriprakash Jaiswal, said the government would double the size of the 7,400-strong National Security Guards. The force was created after the 1984 siege of the Golden Temple in Amritsar by Sikh separatists.
The force’s Black Cat commandos emerged as heroes last week, having climbed down ropes from helicopters and rescued trapped civilians as gunmen marauded through the hotels. But uncomfortable questions have been raised about whether the security forces could have begun their operations sooner and why it took its commandos so long to defeat the attackers.
In Israel, while leaders publicly praised India for its response to the attack, questions also were raised about whether the commando mission to rescue hostages in the Jewish center, Nariman House, had been botched.
Witnesses have compared the destruction inside the center to an earthquake, with floors, walls and stairwells blasted apart by two days of shooting, explosions and grenades.
The head of the National Security Guards, J. K. Dutt, confirmed on Sunday at a news conference that most of the civilians had been killed in the hotels before the rescue operation began. His troops’ first obligation, he told reporters, was to make sure that there was “no loss of innocent lives.” One commando, Sunil Kumar Yadav, who was recovering at a hospital from bullet wounds in his leg, echoed that he was instructed to be extremely cautious inside the Taj hotel, because foreign guests were inside.
He said the commandos could not determine the exact locations of the gunmen, nor their total number, in such a large sprawling hotel — until they came out with guns blazing. It was dark and smoky from the countless explosions inside, he said, and visibility was poor.
Explaining the nearly 60 hours that passed before the Taj was cleared entirely, Dutt said that the terrorists were “well trained” and familiar with the hotel.
In addition, the Taj was littered with unexploded grenades, which had to be defused. He said the last three gunmen at the Taj eluded capture for so long by repeatedly setting fires.
On one side of the Taj, workers boarded up the sidewalk at one of the city’s most exclusive shopping arcades, barricading the row of luxury labels, from Zegna to Louis Vuitton.
Remu Javeri, owner of Joy Shoes, the only Indian boutique there, stood across the street. He had practically grown up at the Taj, he said, where his family opened the store before independence in 1947. “I know every single waiter in here,” he said. “I’ve grown up with them. I’ve lost some very good friends.”
Reporting was contributed by Keith Bradsher, Jeremy Kahn, Ruth Fremson from Mumbai; Heather Timmons and Hari Kumar from New Delhi; Isabel Kershner from Jerusalem; Mark McDonald from Hong Kong; and Graham Bowley from New York.