THE TIMES OF INDIA
27 Nov 2008, 0900 hrs IST, TIMES NEWS NETWORK & AGENCIES
NEW DELHI/MUMBAI: At least 101 people have been killed in attacks by gunmen in Mumbai, police said on Thursday. ( Watch )
"At least six foreigners have been killed and the death figure has gone up to 101 now,” Ramesh Tayde, a senior police officer told from Mumbai’s control room.
In one of the most violent terror attacks on Indian soil, Mumbai came under an unprecedented night attack as terrorists used heavy machine guns, including AK-47s, and grenades to strike at the city’s most high-profile targets — the hyper-busy CST (formerly VT) rail terminus; the landmark Taj Hotel at the Gateway and the luxury Oberoi Trident at Nariman Point; the domestic airport at Santa Cruz; the Cama and GT hospitals near CST; the Metro Adlabs multiplex and Mazgaon Dockyard — killing at least 101 and sending hundreds of injured to hospital, according to latest reports.
The attacks have taken a tragic toll on the city’s top police brass: The high-profile chief of the anti-terror squad Hemant Karkare was killed; Mumbai’s additional commissioner of police (east) Ashok Kamte was gunned down outside the Metro; and celebrated encounter specialist Vijay Salaskar was also killed.
The attacks appeared to be aimed at getting international attention as the terrorists took upto 40 British nationals and other foreigners hostage. The chairman of Hindustan Unilever Harish Manwani and CEO of the company Nitin Paranjpe were among the guests trapped at the Oberoi. All the internal board members of the multinational giant were reported to be holed up in the Oberoi hotel.
Two terrorists were reported holed up inside the Oberoi Hotel. Fresh firing has been reported at Oberoi and Army has entered the hotel to flush out the terrorists.
An unknown outfit, Deccan Mujahideen, has sent an email to news organizations claiming that it carried out the Mumbai attacks.
The Army and Navy in Mumbai were put on alert. 65 Army commandos and 200 NSG commandos were being rushed to Mumbai, Home Minister Shivraj Patil said.
The Navy commandos too have been asked to assist the police. Special secretary M L Kumawat is in constant touch with the state police.
Some media reports attributed the attack to Lashkar-e-Taiba. There were also unconfirmed reports that some of the terrorists came in by sea. A boat laden with explosives was recovered later at night off the Gateway of India.
Well after midnight, sources said two of the terrorists were shot and wounded at Girgaum in south Mumbai. The two were driving in a commandeered silver-coloured Skoda car. Earlier, these men had sprayed bullets from a police Bolero, outside the Metro Adlabs multiplex.
The attacks occurred at the busiest places. Besides hotels and hospitals, terrorists struck at railway stations, Crawford Market, Wadi Bunder and on the Western Express Highway near the airport. Several of these places are within a one-km radius of the commissioner of police’s office.
"This is definitely a terrorist strike. Seven places have been attacked with automatic weapons and grenades. Terrorists are still holed up in three locations Taj and Oberoi hotels and GT Hospital. Encounters are on at all three places,” said Maharashtra DGP A N Roy.
St George’s Hospital and G T Hospital were said to have received 75 bodies and more than 250 injured people, additional municipal commissioner R A Rajeev said. Bombay Hospital got two bodies and 30 injured people were admitted there; Cooper Hospital, Vile Parle, got three dismembered bodies.
Three of the deaths occurred inside the Taj and one G T Hospital attendant died in a shootout inside the hospital. There were reports of people cowering under tables and chairs at both the Taj as well as G T Hospital.
Metro Junction resident Manoj Goel said: "My brother, Manish, died in the firing at Colaba’s Hamaal Galli.” Cops fired back at the men — probably from one of the Lashkar groups, dressed in black and with backpacks and SRPF, Crime Branch, ATS and teams of military commandos were summoned to the spot. Train services at CST were suspended and all roads leading to and from south Mumbai were blockaded.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh cut short his Kerala visit and was returning to Mumbai. He described the situation in Mumbai as "very serious”.
Deshmukh promised "stringent action” against the assailants but the mood across Mumbai was not so optimistic.
There were reports of firing around several landmark buildings in the Colaba-Nariman Point area, including the Taj hotel, Oberoi and other tourist attractions and pubs like Leopold’s. The top floor of Oberoi was said to be on fire amid reports of blasts in the area and blood-smeared bodies were being brought out of the Taj lobby.
Terrorists were said to be holed up at the Taj as well as G T Hospital and cops scampered to cordon off these places. A white flag was seen fluttering from an Oberoi Hotel window around 11.20 pm, where a blast was said to have occurred.
The blast on the Western Express Highway — near Centaur Hotel outside the airport — occurred in a taxi, deputy commissioner of police Nissar Tamboli said.
The firing and bombing started close to the Gateway of India. The gunbattle then moved on towards CST and raged on for over an hour from 10 pm, sending commuters running out of the station.
The assailants also fired into the crowd at CST and people on the trains and then ran out of the station themselves and into neighbouring buildings, including Cama Hospital, after being challenged by cops.
SRPF personnel then entered the iconic BMC building — just opposite CST — to take aim at the assailants, BMC commissioner Jairaj Phatak said. "We fear some of the assailants are still inside the station and we want to catch them if they come out,” a police official said.
Vikhroli police station senior inspector Habib Ansari was on his way to work from his Colaba home when he saw two armed men, with sophisticated weaponry, trying to run into bylanes near the Gateway of India.”I rushed back to Colaba and all policemen, including GRP and RPF personnel, were called up,” he added.
We want all Mujahideen released: Terrorist inside the Hotelہم تمام مجاہدین کی رہایی چاہتے ہیں، ہوٹل کے اندر موجود ٹیررسٹ
27 Nov 2008, 0948 hrs IST, AGENCIES
MUMBAI: A militant holed up inside Mumbai’s Oberoi Hotel told a news channel on Thursday that seven attackers were holding hostages inside the luxury establishment.
"There are seven of us inside hotel Oberoi,” the man identified as Sahadullah told the channel. "We want all Mujahideens held in India released and only after that we will release the people.”
"Release all the Mujahideens, and Muslims living in India should not be troubled,” he said.
Fresh firing erupted early on Thursday in Taj hotel as commandoes moved in to flush out terrorists holding some foreigners hostage after a night of terror targeting ten places in Mumbai. ( Watch )
Army commandoes moved into the luxury Oberoi and the Taj Mahal hotels to flush out terrorists holed up hours after an unspecified number of heavily armed gunmen went on a rampage in ten places in South Mumbai killing 80 persons and taking some foreigners hostage.
Fire and smoke was seen billowing from the hotel as firemen struggled hard to rescue over 100 people still trapped inside.
Five suspected terrorists were killed in two separate incidents overnight including two during a gun battle in the country’s iconic landmark Taj hotel, police said.
Maharashtra deputy chief minister R R Patil said nine suspected terrorists have been arrested. Schools and colleges were ordered to be closed.
Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh said five police officers including Anti Terrorism Squad chief Hemant Karkare were killed in one of the worst terror strikes in the country’s financial capital that in all claimed the lives of at least 11 police personnel.
"The operation (by security forces) is still going on,” he said. Besides army commandoes, naval commandos and Rapid Action force personnel joined in the operations to rescue those stranded in the two hotels. Five columns of Army and 200 NSG commandoes have been rushed. Two sten guns have been recovered by police so far, he added.
Deshmukh said it was not immediately known how many terrorists were involved in the audacious attack in ten places that shook the western metropolis. The chief minister said the Taj and Oberoi are not in control yet. He said there are no terrorists in Cama hospital which was also targeted by gunmen.
Police reported that some hostages were still being held at the Taj Mahal and Oberoi with eyewitnesses saying the gunmen had targeted foreigners after they kept shouting: "Who has US or UK passports?” Several guests were also stuck.
Fire was still raging in the old wing of Taj hotel several hours after it was rocked by five to six blasts and enormous clouds of black smoke rose from the century-old edifice on Mumbai’s waterfront.
‘There was gunfire and explosions, it was terrifying’
27 Nov 2008, 0953 hrs IST, AP
MUMBAI: Foreign visitors and Mumbai residents shuddered as they spoke of a night of terror, ducking under tables at luxury five-star hotels as staff members locked restaurant doors at the first rattle of gunfire and explosions in the lobby below.
Not far away, army commandoes in battle-ready camouflage uniforms battled attackers in black shirts and jeans carrying shoulder bags filled with ammunition at Mumbai’s main railway station, which was filled with commuters waiting to catch trains home.
Twelve hours after the first shots were fired at about 10 pm. at a busy Mumbai cafe, the terror attacks continued on Thursday inside two of the city’s best-known and most opulent hotels, Oberoi & Taj, where terrorists still held hostages.
"We were at dinner when we heard shots fired. There was gunfire and explosions. We stayed on the floor, many were lying under tables, under furniture, and the hotel staff told us to be quiet,” said Cheryl Robinson, a British tourist who was trapped inside Mumbai’s Taj Mahal hotel with two friends. "The hotel staff were stupendous. They locked the doors and warned us to sit tight.”
She said restaurants and rooms were flooded with water after a pipe burst in the chaos of the gunshots and blasts. "We lay down in the water. We could hear the sound of people running outside. It was terrifying.”
Seven long hours later, a barefoot Robinson shivered as she stood outside the burning but still majestic stone-columned hotel that belched out black smoke from shattered windows. Soldiers and firefighters helped her and several others to climb down ladders and escape the blazing edifice as the firing continued inside.
A clutch of weeping tourists from Spain, Italy and Britain, also barefoot, huddled together holding bottles of water and haversacks. They waved away journalists eager for news.
At another Mumbai landmark, the Chattrapati Shivaji Terminus railway station, Nasim Inam’s hands shook as he spoke of seeing commuters mowed down while walking to catch the late trains home.
Four young men carrying big guns and wearing black T-shirts and blue jeans rushed in, Inam said. "They just fired randomly at people and then ran away. In seconds, people fell to the ground.”
Sobbing and shaking his head, he said the attackers were 25 years old at the most.
"They were so young. They were young boys,” said Inam. "I was standing behind. I was just behind. If they had turned around, it would have been me.”
Just a few miles (kilometers) away, eyewitnesses said gunmen hijacked a police van then opened fire on crowds that had collected near two hospitals close to the police headquarters.
"We felt the ground shake and heard the explosions,” said Manish Tripathi, at a police cordon near one of the hospitals. "We heard a car speed up behind us, it was a police van, but the men inside were firing at us.”
He said in seconds people around him were shot at. "Men were screaming that they had lost their fingers. There was blood all over,” said Tripathi who escaped unhurt. "Some were shot in the leg, some on the shoulder or hand. I feel they are still screaming.”
Inside the two Mumbai hotels and the railway station, green uniformed soldiers in helmets took over from the khaki-uniformed police who moved out to patrol the streets and warned residents to stay indoors.
The state government has ordered schools and colleges closed on Thursday.
Opposite the multistory Oberoi hotel, a tense college student Preet Desai paced on a deserted promenade as dawn broke. He said a friend’s father was inside the hotel at a business meeting when shots were fired.
"My friend is shattered. His dad is not answering his cell. What do we do?” said Desai. "Do you know anyone in the hotel who can give us information, any information?”