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Thursday, November 27, 2008

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.

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