MUMBAI, India -- India secretly executed the lone surviving gunmen from the 2008 Mumbai terror attack four years after Pakistani gunmen blazed through India's financial capital, killing 166 people and shattering relations between the nuclear-armed neighbors.
Mohammed Ajmal Kasab, a Pakistani citizen, was hanged early Wednesday at a jail in Pune, a city near Mumbai, after Indian President Pranab Mukherjee rejected his plea for clemency.
News of the execution was widely cheered in India, with political parties organizing public celebrations and some people setting off firecrackers. But for those more deeply touched by the events of Nov. 26, 2008, or "26/11," as Indians call the attack (in the same way "9/11" is common American parlance), the hanging offered only a partial catharsis.
"This is an incomplete justice as the masterminds and main handlers of 26/11 are still absconding," said Kavita Karkare, widow of Hemant Karkare, then-chief of Mumbai's anti-terrorism squad, killed while pursuing Kasab. "They should also be hanged."
Indian officials accuse Pakistan's intelligence agency of working with the militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba to plan the attack -- an allegation that Islamabad denies. India and Pakistan, which have fought three wars since being carved out of British India in 1947, suspended peace talks after the Mumbai attack.
Since 2011, the two nations have rekindled the talks, taken steps to bolster trade and signed a visa accord to make cross-border travel easier, but New Delhi's frustration with Pakistan's failure to bring to justice those responsible for the Mumbai attack has complicated efforts to mend relations.
The attacks were also a major embarrassment for India's security establishment, which for three days failed to stop 10 gunmen who entered the city on a dinghy from running roughshod over its police and elite security forces.
Indian authorities faced public pressure to execute Kasab quickly, and the government fast-tracked the appeal and execution process, which often can take years, or even decades.
Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde said the ministry sent Kasab's mercy plea to Mr. Mukherjee on Oct. 16, and he rejected it Nov. 5.
Indian Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid said the government tried to inform Pakistani officials of the impending execution, but a fax sent to Pakistan's foreign office went unanswered. He said the government also informed Kasab's next of kin.
Indian officials said Kasab was buried at Yerwada Central Jail, where he was executed. Some of India's most famous freedom fighters, including Mohandas Gandhi, served time there.
News of the execution provoked little immediate comment in Pakistan. Kasab's family had not approached authorities about b ringing his body home, Pakistani officials said.
Kasab and nine other gunmen entered Mumbai by boat, carrying cellphones, grenades and automatic weapons. They fanned out across the city, targeting two luxury hotels, a Jewish center, tourist restaurant and crowded train station. Television stations broadcast the attack live, transfixing the nation and world.