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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.

1 comment:

Randeep said...

terrorists sukz

Jai Hind