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Saturday, November 29, 2008

Mumbai siege ends as last terrorist killed

Indian commandos today killed the last remaining gunmen holed up at the Taj Mahal hotel in Mumbai, ending a 60-hour rampage that killed 195 people in India's financial capital.

Orange flames and black smoke engulfed the landmark 565-room luxury hotel after dawn Saturday as Indian forces ended the siege there in a hail of gunfire, just hours after elite commandos stormed a Jewish center and found nine hostages dead.

"There were three terrorists, we have killed them," said JK Dutt, director general of India's elite National Security Guard commando unit.

Some hotel guests were still believed to be in their rooms. "They are still scared, so even when we request them to come out and identify ourselves, they are naturally afraid," Dutt said.
With the end of one of the most brazen terror attacks in India's history, authorities have now shifted their focus to who is behind the attacks.

A previously unknown Muslim group has claimed responsibility and it has been reported that two of the militants were British-born Pakistanis but the Foreign Office, investigating a possible British link, said no evidence had been found.

Indian officials said the sole surviving gunman was from Pakistan and pointed a finger of blame at their neighbour, Islamabad who have denied involvement and promised to help in the investigation. A team of FBI agents has been sent to India to aid the investigations.

Some 295 people were wounded in the violence that started when at least a dozen heavily armed assailants attacked 10 sites across Mumbai on Wednesday night. At least 20 soldiers and police were among the dead.

Six Americans were killed, according to the US Embassy, along with foreigners from Britain, Germany, Canada, Israel, Italy, Japan, China, Thailand, Australia and Singapore.

With 195 people dead across the city, the event was the deadliest attack in India since the 1993 serial bombings in Mumbai which killed 257 people. However, the toll from the past three days of caranage is expected to rise, according to officials, as more bodies are brought out of the hotel.

"There is a limit a city can take. This is a very, very different kind of fear. It will be some time before things get back to normal," said Ayesha Dar, a 33-year-old homemaker.

Indians began burying their dead, many of them security force members killed fighting the gunmen. In the southern city of Bangalore, black clad commandos formed an honor guard for the flag-draped coffin of Maj. Sandeep Unnikrishnan, who was killed in the fighting at the Taj Mahal hotel.

"He gave up his own life to save the others," Dutt said from Mumbai.

Today the Indian navy is investigating whether a trawler found drifting off the coast of Mumbai, with a bound corpse on board, was used in the attack.

Navy spokesman Captain Manohar Nambiar said the trawler, named Kuber, had been found Thursday and was brought to Mumbai. Officials said they believe the boat had sailed from a port in the neighboring state of Gujarat.

Indian security officers believe many of the gunmen may have reached the city using a black and yellow rubber dinghy found near the site of the attacks.

Meanwhile, Pakistan today withdrew an offer to send its spy chief to India to help investigate the attacks, damaging efforts to head off a crisis between the nuclear-armed rivals.

Indian officials have linked the attacks to "elements" in Pakistan, raising the prospect of a breakdown in painstaking peace talks between South Asian rivals.

Pakistan's Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani insisted on Friday that his country was not involved in the carnage and promised to help identify and apprehend those responsible by sending the head of the Inter Services Intelligence agency to aid the investigation.

However, Zahid Bashir, a spokesman for Gilani, today said that decision had been changed and that a lower-ranking intelligence official would travel instead.

He declined to explain the about-face, which followed sharp criticism from some Pakistani opposition politicians and a cool response from the army, which controls the spy agency.

Mumbai police declare Taj Mahal hotel siege over

Indian commandos have killed the last Islamist gunmen barricaded in Mumbai's Taj Mahal hotel, ending a three-day battle that has left at least 195 people dead and wrecked landmarks across the city.

Heavy gunfire was heard and flames leapt from the windows of the historic waterfront hotel as troops from India's crack Black Cats unit engaged in a running battle with the remaining terrorists through rooms and corridors this morning.

Shortly afterwards, the Mumbai police chief, Hasan Gafoor, said his force had regained control of the hotel, where the terrorists were believed to have used hostages as human shields. At least three militants and one soldier were killed, said the Indian special forces chief, Jyoti Krishna Dutt.

The death toll of foreigners today reached 18, including a father and daughter from the US in India for a yoga retreat. British officials said at least 100 Britons were caught up in the attacks, with more than 40 held hostage or forced to hide in their rooms to save their lives.

At least 10 young men heavily armed with rifles and grenades attacked Mumbai on Wednesday night, some landing by boat. They picked targets popular with westerners, including a Jewish house of prayer, and dug in for sieges at the Taj Mahal and Oberoi-Trident hotels. More than 300 people have been injured.

Nine militants had been killed overall, Indian police said. Another man who was arrested claimed to belong to the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba militant group, which was linked to the Mumbai railway bombings of 2006.

India has blamed the present attack on "elements" from Pakistan, and Islamabad did little to ease rising tensions when it backtracked today on a promise to send to India the chief of its spy service, Inter-Services Intelligence.

The Pakistani president, Asif Ali Zardari, has condemned the attacks and his country's foreign minister, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, promised full cooperation, telling reporters in New Delhi: "We are not responsible for this, nor is it in our interest to get involved in something like this."

The Indian prime minister, Manmohan Singh, warned of "a cost" if Pakistan did not act to stop its territory being used as a launchpad for Islamist militant attacks.

The militants may have reconnoitred the hotels by checking in as guests, Indian newspaper reports said today. They appeared to be well trained and "very, very familiar" with the layout of the hotel, an army general said.

"At times we found them matching us in combat and movement. They were either army regulars or have done a long stint of commando training," a commando told the Hindustan Times.

A bag found in the Taj Mahal hotel contained 400 rounds of ammunition, grenades, identity cards, rations, $1,000 (£650) in cash and international credit cards, indicating a meticulously planned operation.

The terrorists were "very determined and remorseless", said the commander of the Indian commando unit, and the fact the Taj was full of terrified civilians made it difficult for his men to fire on the militants. "To try to avoid civilian casualties we had to be so much more careful," he said.

At the Oberoi-Trident hotel, commandos cleared the last of the gunmen yesterday afternoon, freeing 200 exhausted guests including a number of Britons. They found 24 bodies.

At the Jewish house of prayer, five hostages were killed as it was retaken by Indian special forces who abseiled onto the roof from a helicopter.

The British government, meanwhile, was investigating whether two of the attackers could be British citizens of Pakistani origin. Asked about the possibility of any British link to the Mumbai attacks, Gordon Brown said it was "too early" to reach any conclusions.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Hostages said dead in Mumbai Jewish center

MUMBAI, India — Commandos who stormed the Mumbai headquarters of an ultra-orthodox Jewish group found the bodies of five hostages inside, including a New York rabbi and his wife, officials said, as a fresh battle raged at the luxury Taj Mahal hotel and other Indian forces ended a siege at another five-star hotel.

More than 150 people have been killed since gunmen attacked 10 sites across India's financial capital starting Wednesday night, including 22 foreigners - four of them Americans, officials said.

Early Friday night, Indian commandos emerged from a besieged Jewish center with rifles raised in an apparent sign of victory after a daylong siege that saw a team rappel from helicopters and a series of explosions and fire rock the building and blow giant holes in the wall.

Inside, though, were five dead hostages.

A delegation from Israel's ZAKA emergency medical services unit entered the building after the raid and reported through an Indian aide that five hostages and two gunmen were dead, a ZAKA spokesman in Israel said. The spokesman had no information on the hostages' identities or whether there were wounded inside.

Jewish law requires the burial of a dead person's entire body, and the mission of the ultra-Orthodox ZAKA volunteers is to rescue the living - and in the case of the dead, carry out the task of gathering up all collectable pieces of flesh and blood.

Numerous local media reports, quoting top military officials, also said five hostages and two gunmen had been killed in the Jewish center.

The airborne assault on the center run by the Jewish outreach group Chabad Lubavitch was punctuated by gunshots and explosions as forces cleared it floor by floor.

Late Friday, Rabbi Zalman Schmotkin, a spokesman for the Chabad Lubavitch movement, said that Rabbi Gavriel Noach Holtzberg and his wife, Rivka, were among the dead.

The couple's toddler son, Moshe Holtzberg, was smuggled out of the center by an employee, and is now with his grandparents.

By Friday evening, at least nine gunmen had been killed and one had been arrested, said R. Patil, a top official in Maharashtra state, where Mumbai is the capital. Media reports said one or two were thought to still be in the Taj Mahal.

Patil said a total of more than 150 people had been killed and 370 injured.

After hours of intermittent gunfire and explosions Friday at the Taj Mahal, a hotel with 565 rooms, the battle heated up at dusk when Indian forces began launching grenades at the hotel, where at least one militant was believed to be holed up inside a ballroom, officials said.

Commandos had killed the two last gunmen inside the nearby Oberoi earlier in the day.

"The hotel is under our control," J.K. Dutt, director general of India's elite National Security Guard commando unit, told reporters, adding that 24 bodies had been found. Dozens of people - including a man clutching a baby - had been evacuated from Oberoi earlier Friday.

Security officials said their operations were almost over.

"It's just a matter of a few hours that we'll be able to wrap up things," Lt. Gen. N. Thamburaj told reporters Friday morning.

The group rescued from the Oberoi, many holding passports, included at least two Americans, a Briton, two Japanese nationals and several Indians. Some carried luggage with Canadian flags. One man in a chef's uniform was holding a small baby. About 20 airline crew members were freed, including staff from Lufthansa and Air France.

"I'm going home, I'm going to see my wife," said Mark Abell, with a huge smile on his face after emerging from the hotel. Abell, from Britain, had locked himself in his room during the siege.

The well-coordinated strikes by small bands of gunmen starting Wednesday night left the city shell-shocked.

Late Thursday, after about 400 people had been brought out of the Taj hotel, officials said it had been cleared of gunmen, but they later said two to three more were still inside with about 15 civilians.

Early Friday, Thamburaj, the security official, said at least one gunman was still alive inside the hotel and had cut of electricity on the floor where he was hiding. Shortly after that announcement, another round of explosions and gunfire were heard coming from the hotel.

On Friday, India's foreign minister pointed an accusing finger across the border at rival Pakistan.

"According to preliminary information, some elements in Pakistan are responsible for Mumbai terror attacks," Pranab Mukherjee told reporters in the western city of Jodhpur.

"Proof cannot be disclosed at this time," he said, adding that Pakistan had assured New Delhi it would not allow its territory to be used for attacks against India. India has long accused Islamabad of allowing militant Muslim groups, particularly those fighting in the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir, to train and take shelter in Pakistan. Mukherjee's carefully phrased comments appeared to indicate he was accusing Pakistan-based groups of staging the attack, and not Pakistan itself.

Earlier Friday, Pakistan's Defense Minister Ahmed Mukhtar, in Islamabad, denied involvement by his country: "I will say in very categoric terms that Pakistan is not involved in these gory incidents."

Indian home minister Jaiprakash Jaiswal said a captured gunmen had been identified as a Pakistani and Patil, the Maharashtra state official, said: "It is very clear that the terrorists are from Pakistan. We have enough evidence that they are from Pakistan."

Neither provided further details.

Pakistan's government said Friday that it will send its spy chief, Lt. Gen. Ahmed Shujaa Pasha, to India to help probe the attacks.

The gunmen apparently came to Mumbai by boat, and Indian forces expanded their investigation to the sea. Authorities stopped a cargo ship off the western coast of Gujarat that had sailed from Saudi Arabia and handed it over to police for investigation, said Navy Capt. Manohar Nambiar.

They also stopped a cargo ship that had come to Mumbai from Karachi, Pakistan, but released it when nothing suspicious was found on board.

The British government, meanwhile, was investigating whether some of the attackers could be British citizens with links to Pakistan or the disputed Himalayan territory of Kashmir, a British security official told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of his work.

The gunmen were well-prepared, apparently scouting some targets ahead of time and carrying large bags of almonds to keep up their energy.

"It's obvious they were trained somewhere ... Not everyone can handle the AK series of weapons or throw grenades like that," an unidentified member of India's Marine Commando unit told reporters, his face wrapped in a black mask. He said the men were "very determined and remorseless" and ready for a long siege. One backpack they found had 400 rounds of ammunition inside.

He said the Taj was filled with terrified civilians, making it very difficult for the commandos to fire on the gunmen.

"To try and avoid civilian casualties we had to be so much more careful," he said, adding that hotel was a grim sight. "Bodies were strewn all over the place, and there was blood everywhere."

A U.S. investigative team was heading to Mumbai, a State Department official said Thursday evening, speaking on condition of anonymity because the U.S. and Indian governments were still working out final details.

India has been shaken repeatedly by terror attacks blamed on Muslim militants in recent years, but most were bombings striking crowded places: markets, street corners, parks. Mumbai - one of the most populated cities in the world with some 18 million people - was hit by a series of bombings in July 2006 that killed 187 people.

These attacks were more sophisticated - and more brazen.

They began at about 9:20 p.m. with shooters spraying gunfire across the Chhatrapati Shivaji railroad station, one of the world's busiest terminals. For the next two hours, there was an attack roughly every 15 minutes - the Jewish center, a tourist restaurant, one hotel, then another, and two attacks on hospitals. There were 10 targets in all.

Rabbi and wife killed at Mumbai Jewish centre

A Brooklyn-based rabbi and his wife were killed in the siege on a Jewish center in Mumbai as part of the coordinated attacks on India's financial center, their New York-based organization said on Friday.

"Rabbi Gavriel and Rivka Holtzberg, the beloved directors of Chabad-Lubavitch of Mumbai, were killed during one of the worst terrorist attacks to strike India in recent memory," the Chabad's New York headquarters said in a statement.

60 Spaniards evacuated safely from Mumbai

Spain chartered a flight for some of the Spanish while others will board a French flight.

Some 60 Spaniards have left the Indian city of Mumbai on a flight chartered by the Spanish Ministry for Foreign Affairs and the armed forces, according to a diplomatic source.

80% of the Spaniards in the city are on the flight, destination Torrejón de Ardoz, and the rest will leave later on a French flight. Another group of 50 Spaniards were waiting at the airport in Mumbai overnight when they were expected to board another ‘European’ flight.

Spanish Foreign Minister, Miguel Ángel Moratinos, said that 108 Spaniards had been ‘identified and located’ in the city, and all would be evacuated shortly.
He also said Spanish tourists in other parts of India intended to remain in the country if calm returned.

Aamir Khan reacts to terror attacks

It has been quite sometime since Aamir Khan last wrote in his blog. However, he has reached out for his mouse again following the terror attacks in Mumbai. He wrote in his blog that his heart is broken by the attacks and the lost of innocent lives.

"My heartfelt condolences to the families of persons killed and taken hostage. I was feeling sick in the stomach when the fire broke out at the Taj. What would the people caught inside be going through. The fire fighters were doing their best but my imagination was running wild and I was feeling helpless watching other people trapped in the rooms adjoining the fire," he wrote.

The actor also wrote terrorists have no religion. "My heartfelt condolences to the family of the brave officers of the Mumbai Police who lost their lives leading from the front to take on these terrorists. Especially Hemant Karkare of the ATS who in the recent past was being targeted by various political parties for the work that he was doing. When will these politicians realize and admit that terrorists HAVE NO RELIGION. Terrorists are not Hindu or Muslim or Christian," he added.

He prayed that the security forces end the crisis soon. However, he has come down heavily on politicians who are trying to make use of the crisis for their career, stating that they should learn to be responsible at least this time around. He also expressed the need for young and dynamic leaders who can take care of the country.

Hostages freed from Mumbai hotel after terror ordeal

About 93 people, many of them foreigners, emerged from Mumbai's Trident/Oberoi hotel on Friday, more than 36 hours after gunmen stormed the building and took hostages, an AFP photographer said.

The group, some of whom were carrying luggage with Canadian flags on, were taken away in cars without speaking to reporters.

The guests, including one carrying a baby, were ushered on to waiting minibuses by police before being driven away, the photographer said.

Earlier, at least 17 commandos abseiled from a helicopter into the Jewish centre in Mumbai taken by Islamic militants, and explosions have been heard.

- Forces storm Jewish centre
- Abseiling from helicopters
- Some remain trapped

The centre was one of several targets in the city attacked by Islamic terrorists. Officials said hostages, including Israelis, were believed to be held in the building.

Witnesses said the first group of seven special forces soldiers crouched on the roof of the building as the helicopter returned to drop 10 more military personnel.

Intermittent loud explosions were heard from inside the building.

Seven hostages were rescued from the complex late on Thursday, Indian security officials said.

The building was one of at least 10 sites targeted by gunmen who launched coordinated attacks in India's financial capital on Wednesday evening.

Inside is a Jewish prayer and study centre run by the ultra-Orthodox Lubavitch movement, offering drug prevention services as well as doubling up as a hostel for tourists and backpackers.

A cook at the centre told an Israeli newspaper how she escaped with its directors' two-year-old son.

Sandra Samuel, 44, told Haaretz she had barricaded herself in a first-floor room for 12 hours after the gunmen entered the building.

She only dared to peer outside when she heard the cries of a small child through the door.

"I just grabbed the baby and ran out,'' said Samuel, adding that the centre's caretaker Zakir Hussein, 22, who had been hiding with her, escaped with them.

It was unclear whether the directors were among those still being held inside.

Tata group stocks fall following terrorist attack on Taj Hotels

MUMBAI: Shares of Tata Group of companies fell Friday following the heinous terrorist attack on the Taj Mahal Hotel.

Except for Tata Consultancy Services, all other Tata Group companies’ shares were weak. At 10:42 am, Tata Motors slipped 3.21 per cent, Tata Steel fell 2.8 per cent, Tata Power skid 0.06 per cent, Tata Chemicals slid 0.61 per cent, Tata Teleservices dropped 0.51 per cent.

TCS gained 4 per cent on short covering given the F&O expiry, which was postponed due to the terror attack.

Meanwhile, terrorists launched coordinated attacks in India's financial center of Mumbai on Wednesday, killing at least 132 and wounding hundreds at a train station, luxury hotels and a restaurant popular with Western tourists and wealthy Indians.

No amount of money is worth going to Mumbai: Warne

Melbourne: Australian spin wizard Shane Warne was shocked seeing the TV footage of the terror strikes in Mumbai while in transit at the Changi international aiport and did not take the connecting Mumbai flight to play in the inaugural Champions League tournament.

The Champions League has since been postponed in view of the terror strikes.

Warne, captain of the Indian Premier League (IPL) champions Rajasthan Royals in the eight-team tournament, was travelling with former Victorian wicketkeeper Darren Berry and was to stay at the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel that has been siezed by terrorists.

When he walked into the transit lounge at Singapore airport this morning, he looked up at the TV and could not believe what he was seeing.

"I'm shocked. Chuck (Berry) and I got off the plane and saw the news on TV. It's unbelievable.

The place is chaos. We are heading to Mumbai and that's the hotel we are staying at," Warne was quoted as saying by the Herald Sun.

Warne said he had pulled his bags from the connecting flight and would stay put at the Singapore airport and wait for further information. Warne said he had been in contact with the Rajasthan Royals owner, who had been talking to the South African firm handling security.

"I reckon we are certainties to be on a flight heading home later today. It is just not worth the risk. No amount of money is worth the risk with what is going on over there at the moment," Warne said.

The decision to postpone the Champions League was taken Thursday by the league's Governing Council after consultations with the three founding board members -- Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), Cricket Australia (CA) and Cricket South Africa (CSA).

Mumbai is one of the three venues of the eight-nation tournament, which was scheduled to kick-off on December 3.

Source: Indo-Asian News Service

Key developments in the Mumbai terror attack

  • Commandos enter the fourth floor of Nariman House. Two loud explosions heard from inside the building(08:25am)
  • Commados closing in on Nariman House; Final stages of operation(08:16)
  • Another grenade blast on the fourth floor of Nariman house(08:06am)
  • Five commandos land in choppers atop Nariman house where the terrorists are suspected to be holed up(7:27am, Friday)
  • Powerful explosion at Taj hotel (00.47)
  • Gunshots heard from inside Oberoi hotel where terrorists are holding around 35 people hostage. (00:47)
  • Three top police officers, ATS Chief Hemant Karkare, Additional CP Ashok Kamte and encounter specialist Vijay
  • Salaskar were travelling in a jeep near CST when they came under fire from terrorists, says Deshmukh. (00.47)
  • Three more rounds of gunshots heard from inside the old building of Taj hotel. (00:25 (28/11/)
  • All but one terrorist killed in Taj hotel: NSG (00.16 (28/11)
  • Seven hostages rescued from Nariman House (00.01 (28/11)
  • Another grenade blast in Oberoi hotel. (At 22.30)
  • Prime Minister Manmohan Singh holds meeting with Maharashtra Governor S C Jamir, Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh here. Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil and National Security Adviser were also present. (At 22.15)
  • One round of gunshot fired in Nariman House. (At 22.15)
  • Prime Minister Manmohan Singh visits JJ Hospital to enquire about the condition of those injured in the terror attacks (At 9.30 pm)
  • Another explosion in the first floor of the old building of Taj hotel and several rounds of gunshot heard. Military personnel taking position around the hotel.
  • Another grenade blast in Trident (Oberoi) hotel (At 9 pm)
  • Taj Hotels GM's wife, children killed in terrorist attack
  • Terrorist attacks happened due to intelligence failure, says Leader of Opposition L K Advani.
  • UK sending anti-terrorism experts to Mumbai: Brown
  • Home Minister Shivraj Patil must go: Bardhan
  • Fire at Trident (Oberoi) hotel (At 8 pm)
  • Mumbai attacks had some al-Qaeda hallmarks: Britain
  • Indian naval official will not rule out Somali pirates' role
  • At least 7 hostages rescued from Oberoi hotel. (At 7 pm)
  • Seven terrorists killed in Mumbai, says Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh.
  • Railway ADGP K. P. Raghuvanshi given temporary charge of ATS. (At 6 pm)
  • The groups behind attacks in Mumbai are based outside the country, says Prime Minister
  • Manmohan Singh. Multiple explosions heard at old building of Taj Hotel.
  • Thirty five people held as hostages inside Oberoi Hotel. (At 5.30 pm)
  • Indian Navy locates the ship M V Alpha used by the terrorists
  • Third grenade blast heard from Trident Hotel
  • Jewish priest Gabriel among hostages held at Nariman House, police say. (At 5 pm)
  • Explosions heard inside Taj hotel also.
  • Grenade blast heard from Nariman House, where 6 terrorists are holed up.
  • 9 foreigners among 101 killed in Mumbai terror attacks
  • All people trapped in Taj Hotel rescued, says DGP A.N.Roy.
  • 200 more NSG commandos being sent to Mumbai: NSG spokesperson.
  • Hand-grenades lobbed from Oberoi Hotel.
  • Security forces and holed up terrorists exchange fire in Nariman House. One terrorist killed, 6 more ultras suspected to be inside the building, says police.
  • Maharashtra government annonces Rs 5 lakh compensation to the kin of those killed in the terror attacks. Rs 50,000 will be paid to the seriously injured.

Official says siege has ended at Mumbai Taj Mahal hotel

MUMBAI, India — State official in India says siege has ended at Mumbai's Taj Mahal hotel and last three attackers have been killed.

Six Canadians are unaccounted for after suspected Muslim militants attacked targets throughout India's financial capital at day earlier, killing at least 119 people.

In addition to releasing the higher death toll, Indian authorities said 288 people have been injured in the brazen attacks on 10 targets in the city.

A U.S.-based group said two of the wounded are from Canada.

Rescue efforts continued throughout the day Thursday amid sporadic gunfire, with some hostages escaping and others rescued by police.

Several bodies were carried out of the five-star Taj Mahal Palace and Tower hotel.

After dusk Thursday, soldiers ushered several dozen captives out of the Oberoi hotel, another Mumbai landmark that was attacked.

A top Indian general said about 10 to 12 gunmen remain holed up inside two hotels and a Jewish centre. Maj. Gen. R.K. Huda told New Delhi Television that the rest of the gunmen appeared to have been killed or captured.

In Ottawa, senior government officials said six Canadians were among those held at one hotel.

Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon earlier confirmed a number of Canadians were at the targeted hotels but could not say what their status might be.

Thomas Sechak of the U.S.-based Synchronicity Foundation, said four Canadians were part of a delegation on a spiritual trip to India. He said two of them - Michael Rudder, of Montreal, and Helen Connolly, of Toronto - were injured Wednesday night during the attack at one hotel.

"Early on in the evening, when the restaurant was seized first at the Oberoi hotel, Michael got three bullet wounds," Sechak told The Canadian Press by telephone from Faber, Va.

"He was in critical care and is recovering."

Sechak said Connolly was only "grazed by a bullet and is fine."

In Mumbai, the state's Deputy Home Secretary Bitin Srimali said foreigners being held captive included Canadians, Americans, British, Italians, Swedes, Yemenis, New Zealanders, Spaniards, Turks, a Singaporean and Israelis.

In the highly co-ordinated attacks, bands of gunmen invaded two five-star hotels, a popular restaurant, a crowded train station, a Jewish centre and at least five other sites. The assailants were armed with assault rifles, hand grenades and explosives.

Flames burst from Taj Mahal Palace's top floors and dome shortly after the attack began Wednesday night, and erupted again after commandos raided the building Thursday.

One of the freed hostages who did not give his name told reporters he had seen many bodies inside the hotel. He refused to give more details, saying he had promised police not to discuss the rescue while it was ongoing.

The Maharashtra state home ministry said 45 captives had been freed from the Oberoi and 35 were still trapped inside.

Police said they were going slowly to protect the captives.

"The safety of the people trapped is very important," said A. N. Roy, a senior police officer. "It will take time but it will be completed successfully."

Among the dead were at least one Australian, a Japanese and a British national, said Pradeep Indulkar, a senior government official of Maharashtra state, whose capital is Mumbai. A German and an Italian were also killed, according to the foreign ministries in the two countries.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh blamed "external forces."

"The well-planned and well-orchestrated attacks, probably with external linkages, were intended to create a sense of panic, by choosing high profile targets and indiscriminately killing foreigners," he said in address to the nation.

A previously unknown Islamic militant group claimed responsibility for the carnage, the latest in a series of countrywide terror attacks over the past three years that have dented India's image as an industrious nation galloping toward prosperity.

The most high-profile target was the Taj Mahal Palace and Tower hotel, a landmark in Mumbai since 1903, and a favourite watering hole of the city's elite.

The attackers, dressed in black shirts and jeans, stormed into the hotel at about 9:45 p.m. and opened fire indiscriminately.

The shooting was followed by a series of explosions that set fire to parts of the century-old edifice on Mumbai's waterfront. Screams were heard and black smoke and flames billowed, continuing to burn until dawn.

The gunmen also seized the Mumbai headquarters of the ultra-orthodox Jewish outreach group Chabad Lubavitch. Around 10:30 a.m., a woman, a child and an Indian cook were seen being led out of the building by police, said one witness.

Dozens of Indian commandos surrounded the five-storey building, where heavy curtains hung behind windows broken by gunfire. Outside the centre, thousands of people stood in the narrow alleyways watching the standoff.

The attackers appeared to have been targeting Britons and Americans.

Alex Chamberlain, a British citizen who was dining at the Oberoi, told Sky News television that a gunman ushered 30 to 40 people from the restaurant into a stairway and, speaking in Hindi or Urdu, ordered everyone to put up their hands.

"They were talking about British and Americans specifically. There was an Italian guy, who, you know, they said: 'Where are you from?" and he said he's from Italy and they said 'fine' and they left him alone. And I thought: 'Fine, they're going to shoot me if they ask me anything - and thank God they didn't," he said.

Chamberlain said he managed to slip away as the patrons were forced to walk up stairs, but he thought much of the group was being held hostage.

The United States and Canada were among the countries that condemned the attacks.

In Washington, White House press secretary Dana Perino said the U.S. "condemns this terrorist attack and we will continue to stand with the people of India in this time of tragedy."

In Ottawa, Prime Minister Stephen Harper condemned the attacks calling them "despicable and cowardly."

"These attacks targeted people from India and around the world. They were attacks on values we hold dear, and we share your loss," Harper said in a statement Thursday.

Ottawa issued a travel warning Thursday advising travellers to avoid non-essential travel to Mumbai until the situation stabilizes. "Visitors in the city should monitor local news reports, immediately return to their accommodation and remain indoors," the advisory said.

The motive for the onslaught was not immediately clear, but Mumbai has frequently been targeted in terrorist attacks blamed on Islamic extremists, including a series of bombings in July 2006 that killed 187 people.

Later Thursday the Indian navy said its forces were boarding a cargo vessel suspected of ties to the attacks.

Navy spokesman Capt. Manohar Nambiar said Thursday that the ship, the MV Alpha, had recently come to Mumbai from Karachi, Pakistan.

The navy has "located the ship and now we are in the process of boarding it and searching it," he said. Earlier, Indian media showed pictures of black and yellow rubber dinghies found by the shore, apparently used by the gunmen to reach the area.

India has been wracked by bomb attacks the past three years, which police blame on Muslim militants intent on destabilizing this largely Hindu country. Nearly 700 people have died.

Since May a militant group calling itself the Indian Mujahideen has taken credit for a string of blasts that killed more than 130 people. The most recent was in September, when explosions struck a park and crowded shopping areas in the capital, New Delhi, killing 21 people and wounding about 100.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

One Briton dead in Mumbai attacks

Article from: Agence France-Presse
ONE British national was among those killed in the attacks in Mumbai which left more than 100 people dead, the Foreign Office in London said.
"One British national died. We're in contact with the family," a spokeswoman said overnight, declining to give any further details about people injured.
"It wouldn't be helpful to go into numbers at this time."

Terrorists kill man who gave them water

The terrorists who attacked the Cama Hospital here early today did not spare the life of even their benefactor who had served them water when asked for.

After killing two security personnel in the terrace of the hospital, the two ultras escaped to the housing quarters of the hospital where they killed two persons one of whom had served them water when asked for.

An eerie calm enveloped the maternity ward at the hospital today, in stark contrast to the usual cries of newborns there as most of the patients have left the hospital against medical advice.

Two terrorists had entered the hospital from the back entrance with hand grenades and AK-47 assault rifles at around 0230 hours killing two security personnel, Bhanu Narkar and Baban Ugade, eyewitnesses said.

The terrorist duo, while continuing to fire indiscriminately, went up to the fourth and fifth floors, which house the maternity ward at the five-storey hospital.

One of the two maternity wards was locked from the inside while the terrorists tried to break into another which had been fastened by the women occupying it using a cloth.

Twenty-five women, along with their newborn babies and three other men locked themselves inside a safety room within the maternity ward, refusing to open despite several threats by the terrorists.

Continuing to fire while climbing further up, the terrorists reached the terrace of the hospital where they killed a sub-inspector and two constables.

Pope Denounces Attacks in Mumbai

Pope Benedict appealed for an end to all acts of terrorism today in a telegram of condolences for the victims of the attacks in Mumbai, India.
The telegram states that Pope Benedict is “deeply concerned at the outbreak of violence” and expresses his “spiritual closeness to the public authorities, citizens, and all those affected”.

It goes on to denounce all acts of terrorism, as an offence to “the human family” that “severely destabilizes the peace and solidarity needed to build a civilization worthy of mankind’s noble vocation to love God and neighbour”.
The archbishop of Mumbai, Cardinal Oswald Gracias, today urged the International Community to remain close to his city and nation..

Control room, helplines set up for foreign missions

The external affairs ministry has set up a control room to assist Indian and foreign missions with information about the foreigners trapped in the two luxury hotels in Mumbai where the terrorists struck Wednesday night.

The control room is being manned round-the-clock. Those seeking information can call at:

I) +91 11 2301 5300; II) +91 11 2301 2113; and III) +91 11 2301 3537.

Fax: +91 11 2301 8158

Six foreign nationals are reported to have been killed in the terror attacks. A Japanese and an Australian have been confirmed dead in the blasts.

The terror attacks at different locations in Mumbai killed a total of 101 people and injured over 250.

The names of five foreigners killed are: Bret Gilbert Taylor, 49, from England; Michael Stuart, 73; Jurberg Hatraz, 68; Starder Dapley, 50; and Andres Devoras, 75.

NSG preparing to launch attack on Nariman House

Mumbai: Exchange of fire intensified at Nariman House, a residential complex with a Jewish prayer hall, where also a hostage situation was prevailing. There were unconfirmed reports of a similar situation in Cama hospital. Window panes on third and fifth floor shattered.

Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh said the situation was "grave". He remarked that the terrorists could have come by boats.

One terrorist holed up inside Nariman House in south Mumbai killed, says police. Six more ultras suspected to be inside the building.

Three hostages have been able to escape till now. Few people including some elderly people and children evacuated from the neighbouring building of Nariman House.

Maharashtra deputy chief minister R R Patil said nine suspected terrorists have been detained.

Five police officers, including Anti Terrorism Squad chief Hemant Karkare, were killed in the terror strikes that in all claimed the lives of at least 11 police personnel.

The motive for the onslaught was not immediately clear, but Mumbai has frequently been targeted in terrorist attacks blamed on Islamic extremists, including a series of bombings in July 2007 that killed 187 people.

Media reports said a previously unknown group calling itself the Deccan Mujahideen had claimed responsibility for the attacks in e-mails to several media outlets.

Mumbai attack: Hospitals witness horror stories

St George, GT and JJ hospitals in Mumbai are centres of desperate hope for many as they anxiously wait to know about their relatives and some crest-fallen at the death of dear ones.
The St George hospital in south Mumbai, which saw a steady stream of bodies since the attacks last night, has been functioning with a sense of utmost urgency.

Paramedical staff and attendants have done a commendable job arranging for bodies to be taken for panchnama, arrangement of blood among other things, doctors at the hospital said.

The hospital, which received the highest number of bodies following the attacks, witnessed chaos in the morning when security personnel refused television crews from filming dead bodies.

GT hospital, also in south Mumbai, bore an uneasy silence and a sense of fear prevailed. Relatives of injured and dead were reluctant to speak to the media.

Hemant Tulin, an employee at the Taj, is battling for life at GT hospital, which is bustling with activity being closer to the scene of terror attacks.

The 27-year-old, who suffered multiple injuries, called his mother at 2230 hours last night telling her he was safe. At 0530 hours this morning, Talin's mother received a call from the hospital stating that he had been seriously injured and was in the ICU.

Talin, who witnessed the death of his colleague due to bullet injuries told his mother, "I am calling you now, because I do not know when I will be able to call you later," she said.

Terror e-mail warns of more attacks

New Delhi, Nov 27 (IANS) An e-mail sent by an unknown group, Mujahideen Hyderabad Deccan, after the Mumbai terror attack has warned of more such attacks. “We today warn the Indian government to stop the repeated injustice on Muslims and it should return the states snatched from Muslims. But we know that Indian government would not take this warning seriously,” said the group in a two page e-mail sent to television channels.

“That is why we have decided that warning will not just remain a warning, we would ensure that it is proved true, an example of which you have seen in Mumbai,” said the e-mail.

“Now we will keep on reacting till the time we don’t take revenge of every atrocity on us, every insult to us,” it said.

Terrorists Wednesday night wreaked havoc in south Mumbai, killing at least 101 people and injuring 250

Very well planned and executed operation: Police chief

Roy said: "All I can say its seems to be very well planned, very well executed with great precision and training kind of operation...''

The terror assault on Mumbai was a "very well planned and very well executed" operation done with great precision and training but police do not know where they came from or which group they belonged to, Maharashtra Director General of Police A.N. Roy said Thursday.

Talking to journalists 16 hours after the unprecedented terror attack that left at least 101 dead and 250 injured, Roy said: "All I can say its seems to be very well planned, very well executed with great precision and training kind of operation. I won't like to put any name unless we have some material evidence."

Roy said there were 12 incidents of shootouts at 10 places in the city and all happened in quick succession.

He also said there were no hostages in the Taj Mahal Palace and Tower Hotel and there were no negotiations on with militants at any place.

"The situation at the Taj hotel is under control. There is no hostage-like situation there. We won't negotiate them either and would kill them. Our focus is to kill them or nab them," Roy told reporters.

"Right now terrorists are holed up in three places - Taj Hotel, Oberoi-Trident Hotel and Colaba in Nariman Point. NSG commandos are spearheading the operations along with Mumbai Police and the naval commando," he said.

"In Taj we are checking the entire hotel room-by-room and floor-by-floor. We are checking and clearing every corner to ensure that no terrorists are left. There were some dead bodies lying in the hotel and are taken out."

"As we are going floor by floor, we have not come across any terrorist so far. All the people who were holed up in banquet halls, restaurants in Taj Hotel have been safely rescued last night and early morning."

"There are some guests in the hotel rooms. We will check them and clear them so that they remain safe. So far, six bodies have been recovered from Taj."

"The entire operation is to try and nab the terrorists holed up in these three places alive so that we can continue the investigations and unearth the entire conspiracy. Till now, five terrorists have been killed and nine suspected people have been arrested,"

When asked about the hostage situation at the Oberoi-Trident Hotel, Roy said: "We are now going aggressively at all these places. Wherever these terrorists are holed up, we would either catch them or kill them."

"There is a possibility that some people are hold hostage there and that is why operation is conducted more sensitively. We are going little slow by taking care that no innocent guest is harmed."

"The Mumbai Police Commissioner Hassan Gaffor is himself leading the operations and we are going to get them (terrorists). We are not negotiating them and no such offer has come."

England Performance squad to fly out of India

Bhubhaneshwar: Not only has the England senior team cancelled its international engagements in India, even the England Performance squad have decided to call off their tour of India and rush back home in the light of Wednesday night's terror attack in Mumbai.

England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) Managing Director Hugh Morris addressed the media on Thursday afternoon at Bhubhaneshwar, where the senior England team is resideing after their fifth ODI against India. He announced that the England Performance squad, including the likes of former captain Michael Vaughan and left arm spinner Monty Panesar, will head back home at the earliest.

The England Performance squad are currently based in Bangalore, where they are training, and were due to play two matches - one in Bangalore and one in Mumbai.

They were even supposed to be staying at the Taj Mahal Hotel during their visit of Mumbai, one of the places that was the target of the militants during their attack on Wednesday night and Thursday morning.

Further, Morris said no decision had been made on two-Test series between England and India, and that the ECB was awaiting security advice, after which the ECB would act appropriately.

World leaders condemn Mumbai attacks

Washington/London (PTI): President-elect Barack Obama and UN chief Ban ki-moon led the global community condemnation of the terror attacks in Mumbai and called on the nations of the world to work together to "root out and destroy terrorist networks".

At least 100 people, including Anti-Terrorism Squad chief Hemant Karkare, were killed when terrorists struck with impunity in Mumbai in coordinated multiple blasts and gunfire in a dozen areas across the city.

"These coordinated attacks on innocent civilians demonstrate the grave and urgent threat of terrorism," Obama's Chief National security Spokesperson Brooke Anderson said in a statement.

"The United States must continue to strengthen our partnerships with India and nations around the world to root out and destroy terrorist networks," he said.

"We stand with the people of India, whose democracy will prove far more resilient than the hateful ideology that led to these attacks," Anderson added.

In a statement, the US State Department condemned the terrorist attacks in Mumbai. "We are monitoring the situation very closely and stand ready to support the Indian authorities as they deal with this horrific series of attacks. At this point, we are unaware of any American casualties," it added.

The UN chief also strongly condemned the attacks, saying "such violence is totally unacceptable."

He said that no cause or grievance can justify indiscriminate attacks against civilians and called for the perpetrators of the attacks to be brought to justice.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said the "outrageous" attacks will be met with a "vigorous response".

"I have sent a message to Prime Minister (Manmohan) Singh that the UK stands solidly with his government as they respond," Brown said, adding the UK is ready to offer all necessary help to India.

British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said the attacks were a reminder of the threat from violent extremists. "Today's attacks in Mumbai which have claimed many innocent victims remind us, yet again, of the threat we face from violent extremists," he said.

"Our thoughts are with the families and friends of those killed and injured. The UK and India will continue their joint efforts to counter the actions of terrorists," he said.

The European Union strongly condemned the attacks and expressed its "horror and indignation" at the series of shootings and blasts.

Canada's Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon condemned the attacks, saying "these cowardly attacks are truly appalling."

"Canada strongly condemns the savage terrorist attacks in Mumbai, which have left hundreds of innocent civilians injured or killed," Cannon said.

Britain's Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg said: "When violent terrorism raises its ugly head, it is crucial that the international community stands together.

Conservative leader David Cameron said his thoughts were with all those who had been caught up in the attacks.

"India and Britain stand together at this time in the face of terrorism," he said.

The British Foreign Office has also issued an emergency number for people with relatives in Mumbai: 0207 008 0000.

Huge explosion at Taj again, 9 rescued from Trident

Three fresh explosions have been reported at the Taj hotel in Mumbai and rescue operations are on.

Around 10-12 terrorists are still holed up in Trident hotel and have taken many hostage. Some of them are Israeli and Canadian nationals. Nine people have been rescued from the Trident.

More than 100 people have been killed, including nine foreigners and at least 287 injured in a series of well-coordinated terrorist attacks in Mumbai.

Terrorists, who apparently came in by boats, struck at 10 places in south Mumbai including five-star hotels, hospitals and train stations.

However, Maharashtra Police claim that there is no hostage-like situation at the Taj.

Speaking to NDTV, Maharashtra Director General of Police A N Roy said, "There is no indication so far of the identity of the terrorists."

He said that the terrorists were highly armed, level of weapons and training suggest that they are not locals. He said, "There is hostage situation at Trident and the police were trying to capture the ultras alive."

"Fifty per cent operation is complete at Taj. There is no hostage-like situation at Taj anymore," he further said.

According to sources, terrorists have demanded the release of prisoners, ransom and the government may be negotiating with the terrorists.

Four Navy ships and choppers have launched search over Gujarat-Goa seas. Navy and Coast Guard are conducting joint search for the ship that may have carried the militants.

Credit cards with photos of militants have been seized by the Naval Commandos.

Naval commandos have seized grenades, AK 47 magazines, shells and knives from militants.

Earlier, NSG and Military Commandos entered the Taj and Trident hotels. Five terrorists have been killed. Several staff members at the hotels have also been killed, including two at Trident.

NSG Commandos launched operations in the Nariman House building in Colaba too. This was the second place that was attacked in Mumbai. Two men came on a scooter and hurled a grenade at nearby petrol pump.

Though the grenade missed the petrol reservoir, it destroyed a facade of the station. The terrorists then ran into Nariman House building behind petrol pump into a Jewish residential building. Here, the terrorists murdered two people and then went silent for several hours till early this morning. This is another place apart from the Taj and the Trident, which are under siege.

Policemen were able to successfully flush out terrorists from the Cama hospital and everything seems to be calm now. Curfew has been imposed at Colaba and Gateway of India. At least 800 Army personnel have been deployed at various locations in Mumbai.

At least 14 policemen have been killed across the city, including the head of the Maharashtra Anti-Terror Squad Hemant Karkare, who was shot three times.

Well-known encounter specialist Vijay Salaskar is also dead. Additional Commissioner of Police Sadanand Date is critical. Every top line anti-terror force in the country has been pushed into Mumbai including commandos of the National Security Guard, Marine Commandos and Army commandos.

There are also reports of low intensity blast in Ville Parle and grenade attack in Santa Cruz. Two blasts have been reported in Napean Sea road area of south Mumbai.

Many foreigners have been held hostage by the terrorists. "Gunmen took 15 hostages and half of them foreigners," said an eye-witness at Taj hotel.

"Gunmen wanted anyone with British or American passport," said another eye-witness.

Five terrorists are killed, two escaped and nine have been arrested. An unknown organisation called the Deccan Mujahideen has taken the responsibility for the terror attacks.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has addressed the nation and he also called an emergency Cabinet meeting. Home Minister Shivraj Patil is back in Delhi from Mumbai.

Cabinet Committee on Security met before the full Cabinet meet. The Prime Minister's election rally in Delhi scheduled for Thursday was also cancelled.

Maharashtra government has announced Rs 5 lakh compensation for those killed and Rs 50,000 for those seriously injured in the attacks.

Speaking to NDTV, Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister R R Patil said, "There is no plan for talks with the terrorists. Claiming to have some "vital leads", the minister expressed confidence of a breakthrough soon.

Intelligence sources say that foreign hand is fully evident in these attacks. They have arrested a Pakistan national from Chowpatty area in the city.

Police have seized a rubber boat, which anchored off Mumbai harbour. It all started with incidents of firing in Colaba and near CST station.

Meanwhile, train services have resumed at the CST station. Lufthansa, Northwest and Air France have cancelled their flights.

On their part, hotels in Mumbai have been asked not to take new guests.

Places attacked:

Trident Hotel, Taj Hotel, Nariman House, Wadi Bunder, Cama hospital, GT hospital, VT station, Bootleggers pub, Girgaum and Metro cinema.

Mayor of London's statement following Mumbai terrorist attacks

The Mayor of London Boris Johnson today expressed his sympathy and condolences to the people of Mumbai and those affected by the terrorist attacks on the city. He has also written to Vilasrao Desmukh, the Chief Minister of the Maharashtra State Government.

The Mayor said today:

'Our thoughts are with the people of Mumbai and everyone affected by the dreadful and indiscriminate attacks on the city. I am shocked and saddened such violence and terror, which cannot be tolerated anywhere, at any time.

'London has a large Indian population and historic ties to that wonderful country and I wish to offer our city's sympathy and support at this difficult moment.

'I know that the city of Mumbai will not be deflected from its course by indiscriminate terror and would like to reiterate the offer by the Metropolitan Police of their unrivalled expertise following the attacks.'

The Mayor has been reassured that GLA staff working in the Mumbai office are safe and well and plans to call the London representative today. The Mayor is also writing to the High Commissioner of India to the UK and the British High Commissioner in India to offer his full support and services.

Champions League postponed after terror attack

NEW DELHI — The inaugural Champions League Twenty20 cricket tournament, featuring provincial champions from five countries, has been postponed in the wake of terror attacks in Mumbai that have killed at least 100 people.

"We held consultations among all the stakeholders ... (and) it was agreed that in the best interests of all concerned, the inaugural edition of the Champions League Twenty20 should be postponed," tournament chairman Lalit Modi said Thursday. "We very strongly condemn this dastardly and heinous criminal act of a few which has resulted in the loss of precious lives and injury to hundreds. We offer our heartfelt condolences to the bereaved families and we are with them in their hour of grief," Modi said.

It follows the postponement of England's limited-overs tour of India.

NRIs appeal to folks back home to maintain calm

Apprehensive of communal disturbances in India following the Mumbai terror attacks, leading Indian Americans Thursday urged people back home to maintain calm and peace.

Expressing outrage at the nature of attacks that has killed more than 100 people in India's commercial capital Mumbai so far, these eminent Indian Americans from various parts of the United States in a signed statement urged the political parties not to use this tragedy for their own advantage.

'We appeal to all Indians to stay united and foil the evil designs of the terrorists whose main objective is to fan the flames of discord and hatred. We urge the political parties not to exploit these terrorist acts for political purposes,' the statement said.

Prominent among those who signed the statement are Shahid Ali Khan of the Indian Minorities Advocacy Network, Manzoor Ghori of Indian Muslim Relief and Charities and Khursheed Mallick from American Muslim Physicians of Indian Origin (AMPI).

Among other signatories are Dr Shaikh Ubaid (New York), Saeed Patel (New Jersey), Dr Syed S. Ahmed (Chicago), Dr Shaikh O. Saeed (Milwaukee, Wisconsin), Syed Azmatullah Quadri (Chicago) and Habeeb Ahmed (Long Island, New York).

These NRIs expressed their alarm over the sophistication and military level planning seen in these coordinated attacks and on the failure of the intelligence agencies in preventing such a huge and widespread attack.

'We demand that the federal and state governments bring the perpetrators of these actions to justice swiftly,' they said.

Expressing their deepest condolences to the families of the victims of these heinous attacks, the statement said: 'Our thoughts and prayers are with the hostages especially those who were guests of India and were visiting from the US and Britain.'

'We stand in solidarity with the family of Anti Terrorism Squad chief Hemant Karkare, who was courageously heading the inquiry in the recent Malegaon bomb blasts in which Hindu extremists, including military officers and some religious leaders were implicated,' it said.

Terror acts will make India stronger: Ratan Tata

Ratan N. Tata, chairman of Indian Hotels Co that owns Wednesday night’s terrorist-targeted Taj Mahal Palace and Tower Hotel in Mumbai, has said acts of terror would make India stronger.”We must show that we cannot be disabled or destroyed, but that such heinous act will only make us stronger. It is important that we do not allow divisive forces to weaken us. We need to overcome these forces as one strong unified nation,” he said in a statement Thursday.

Tata expressed his sympathy for the families of the victims and said attacks on innocent people and the destruction of prominent landmarks in India deserved to be universally condemned.

He said while the lives that have been lost cannot be replaced, it is the time to stand together, shoulder to shoulder, as citizens of India and rebuild what has been destroyed.

Indian stock exchanges remain closed on 27th November 2008

Indian stock exchanges were ordered closed. Commandos from India's National Security Guards were reportedly attempting to root out terrorists at the two luxury hotels, which were within a mile of the Bombay Stock Exchange, India's oldest and best-known bourse.
"The stock market and exchanges are closed for the day. The expiry in [November] futures and options and the settlement" due on Thursday have been "postponed to the next working day," said Kalyan Bose, a spokesman for the Bombay Stock Exchange.

Church Condemns Terror In Mumbai

Church people have condemned the "heinous" terrorist attacks in Mumbai that have killed at least 100 people and wounded about 500 others, according to reports on Nov. 27 afternoon.

Cardinal Varkey Vithayathil of Ernakulam-Angamaly, president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India, said this was "the most heinous crime -- to indiscriminately kill ordinary people in the streets, railway stations and hotels for whatever cause," reported UCA News.

Similarly, Reverend Enos Pradhan, general secretary of the Church of North India, a unified Protestant Church, said: "The Indian Church is shocked and disturbed by the events of the bomb blasts, killing innocent people and taking tourists as hostages."

Teams of terrorists armed with assault rifles and grenades attacked 11 locations in the city, India's commercial capital. Most of the sites targeted were in the main tourist and business district, including the city's main commuter train station, a hospital and two luxury hotels, where gunmen held dozens of hostages. The attacks began around 9:30 p.m. local time on Nov. 26.

On Nov. 27 afternoon, officials said at least eight militants and 11 policemen had been killed.
The attackers reportedly entered the city by boat, stormed the two luxury hotels on the seafront and took tourists as hostages, singling out foreigners, particularly British and American nationals.

Reverend Pradhan said the terrorists tried to "bring an international dimension to their activity by keeping foreign nationals as hostages." In his view, getting to the root of the problem will require changing the mindset of people involved in such crimes.

Cardinal Vithayathil said the atrocities in Mumbai have deeply wounded and pained him. He urged the government to defend people's life and property.

"Terrorism is a crime against humanity. Nations and communities must do everything to wipe out terrorist networks and their links from society," he said, while expressing condolences over the many deaths, especially "our security people who sacrificed their lives to protect us."

Several Indian news agencies have reported receiving e-mails claiming responsibility for the Mumbai attacks from a group calling itself Deccan Mujahideen.

Pictures of the terror

Fire at the Taj Mahal Hotel

Four top officers killed in Mumbai

Four top police officials were among the 10 policemen killed as security forces took on terrorists here in the early hours of Thursday following a series of attacks in this India's financial capital, which killed at least 80 people and injured 250 others, authorities said.

Mumbai Police Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) chief Hemant Karkare was among the dead. Two Indian Police Service (IPS) officers, additional police commissioners Ashok Kamte and Sadanand Date, were killed in separate gun battles with terrorists, the authorities said.

Mumbai Police "encounter specialist" Vijay Salaskar were also shot dead in another gun battle. Karkare was heading investigations into several recent cases of terrorist attacks here. There were six other police officials among the at least 80 killed in the coordinated terror attacks late Wednesday night.

Rajapaksa condemns Mumbai attack

Colombo, Nov 27

Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa Thursday ‘vehemently condemned’ the terror attack that left over 100 people dead in Mumbai.

He also called for ‘concerted action’ by all countries to eliminate terrorism.

‘My government and I hasten to condemn most vehemently the brutal acts of terrorism that killed more than 100 persons and injured many more in Mumbai last night,’ Rajapaksa said in a statement.

Rajapaksa said the indiscriminate attacks ’show that the terrorists are targeting an important sector of the Indian economy with a view to destabilizing democracy in India.

‘These unfortunate attacks bring into focus the urgent need for concerted action by all countries to eradicate the menace of terrorism, wherever it is, and whoever the leaders and manipulators of such violence may be,’ he said.

‘Sri Lanka stands with the government and people of India at this time of tragedy,’ Rajapaksa said.

Some Sri Lankan television channels showed live the CNN coverage of the Mumbai terrorist attack while the local websites updated every development related to the attack.

Ship that allegedly brought in terrorists intercepted

Mumbai, Nov 27

An Indian Navy ship Thursday gave a chase through high seas to intercept a merchant vessel that is suspected to have brought 10 terrorists to Mumbai for staging Wednesday’s synchronised attacks that rocked India and brought Mumbai to a standstill.

‘As of now, all that can be confirmed is that the vessel has been intercepted,’ an Indian Navy officer here said.

The Indian Coast Guard (ICG) had also deployed two fast patrol vessels and two aircraft to look for merchant vessel, an ICG official said.

‘The coastline from Gujarat to Mumbai is being currently patrolled to look for the MV Alpha,’ an ICG official in Mumbai had told IANS on telephone shortly before the vessel was intercepted.

The most audacious terror attack in Mumbai began Wednesday night when militants attacked high profile landmarks, including the Taj Mahal Palace and Tower Hotel, the Oberoi Trident Hotel, the Metro Theatre and the Chhatrapati Shivaji (formerly Victoria Terminus) railway terminus.

At least 101 people, including a foreign tourist and four top police officers, were killed and over 250 injured in the attacks.

Terrorists attacked Mumbai, 127 killed, 350 injured

Mumbai, India: November 27, 2008, IR Summary/ Agencies/TOI – Big battle is going on between the Army commandoes at Nariman House and Trident (Oberoi) hotel in Mumbai. At the Taj hotel, hostages have been rescued as per Maharashtra DGP A N Roy. However, battle continues. A blast is also reported at Nariman House.

One terrorist was holed up inside Nariman House in south Mumbai has been killed, as per police sources.

An unspecified number of foreigners including Americans, Israelis and Canadians are thought to be among those in the hotels and in Nariman House, a residential complex with an old Jewish prayer hall.

Firing is also going on at Oberoi hotel. Series of blasts are reportedly heard at the hotel. Hostages are still held by terrorists inside the hotel are being used as a human shield according to reports. The Army has entered the hotel to flush out the terrorists.

The operation at Trident was being carried out very carefully to ensure there were no civilian casualties, Maharashtra DGP A N Roy said adding there could be some hostages though the exact number was not known.

The deputy chief minister of Maharashtra, R R Patil, has said that there could be between 100 and 200 guests and workers trapped in the Trident-Oberoi Hotel, with 10-12 militants also inside.

"There could be 100-200 people inside the hotel, but we cannot give you the exact figure as many people have locked themselves inside their rooms," RR Patil told reporters.

"There could be 10-12 terrorists inside the hotel. There are no negotiations with the terrorists."

The terrorists are believed to have come in a boat to the Gateway of India, opposite Taj hotel, as fresh explosions rocked the two hotels after the night of terror targeting ten places.
The reports are still continuing from different sources, however, the fierce battle is going on.