Thursday, November 27, 2008

Mumbai terror strike...

Mumbai: In one of the most violent terror attacks on Indian soil, Mumbai came under an unprecedented night attack as terrorists used heavy 
Terror attacks in Mumbai
Dome of Taj hotel in flames in Mumbai after the terror attack (AFP Photo)

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 80 and sending more than 900 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. 

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