EYEWITNESS ACCOUNT: It's War on the streets of Mumbai
Sumantra Maitra - in Mumbai, India repoting for The-Latest.com
Death toll risingTerror struck in Mumbai late last night, when heavily armed men orchestrated 12 simultaneous attacks with grenades and AK-47 rifles at posh hotels including the Taj Mahal Palace and Oberoi Trident, in south of India's business capital. A huge explosion took place on the dome of the Taj hotel which was engulfed in fire, while gunshots were heard at around 1.24 am. There were also explosions at the Oberoi hotel in south Mumbai, where heavily armed men are reported to have struck. The first gunfire was reported at the Chatrapati Shivaji Terminus station, where unconfirmed reports state, at least 10 people were killed. Thereafter, Mazagaon dock was attacked, where an explosion took place in a taxi. The next target was the Taj hotel. Afterwards, the terrorists are reported to have escaped towards Vidhan Bhawan, a very security-sensitive area. A Jewish centre was also among those targeted. Police say an Israeli rabbi is among the hostages being held by five suspected terrorists at the Nariman House offices of the group, Chabad Lubavitch, in the heart of Colaba. It is feared that the lives of Jewish families, who live in the building, are under serious threat.
Police say 14 police officers, 81 Indian nationals and six foreigners have been killed. A Japanese businessman was confirmed to be among the dead. Four suspected terrorists have also been killed and nine arrested, they added.
The police have seized a boat at Mazgaon dock, which is reported to have contained huge amounts of arms and ammunition. An eyewitness said that the the attackers had machine guns and hand grenades, they were young men and shouted that they wanted to kill the British, American and Israeli nationals.
The terrorists, armed with sophisticated weapons and grenades, entered the Chatrapati Shivaji terminal and opened fire killing and injuring several people. As well as the Oberoi and Taj hotels, they also attacked several major building in the Colaba, Nariman Point area.
Terrorists fired indiscriminately at Mazgaon, Metro junction, Crawford market, Colaba. In Vile Parle there was a huge blast in a taxi in front of the airport.
Latest reports suggest that Anti-terrorist Squad chief Hemant Karkare, who was injured in the attack, was killed. Mumbai’s top counter-intelligence expert Vijay Salaskar is also reported to have been killed at the Taj hotel during the attack.
Meanwhile, two teams of 15 navy commandos have been called in to end the hostage situation at Mumbai’s Oberoi hotel. Authorities said that highly-trained naval marines are being pressed into service to neutralise the terrorists, who are holed up in the two hotels. Forty guests are said to be held hostage and hundreds more trapped in the hotels.
Indian army commandos early this morning moved into Oberoi and Taj Mahal hotels to flush out the Fidayeens (suicide bombers), who took control last night. Three to four heavily armed suicide attackers are said to be inside the Taj and Oberoi hotels.
Deccan Mujadhideen, a new terrorist organisation, claimed responsibility for the series of attacks, which claimed the lives of more than 100 people. Almost 300 people were injured. This terrorist outfit also sent emails to various news media organisations, claiming responsibility for the attacks in the business capital of India. The IP address of this email was traced to a location in Russia, according tto intelligence sources. They confirmed that atleast 40 Britons were being held hostage. Among the group of foreigners, a high profile Israeli rabbi and his children are also hostage. A top French nuclear scientist has just been rescued as I file this report to The-Latest. He has contacted his embassy to say he is safe, sources confirmed. National Security Guard commandos are planning to attack the house from behind, in a crowded area of the city, to ensure that they are able to free the hostages. Initial reports said that a group of terrorists escaped in a police vehicle and reached Colaba, where they threw a grenade on a petrol pump.
It has been revealed that the terrorists, who orchestrated the deadly Fidayeen attack, had reached Mumbai last night. They had used a sea route and they were dropped by their handlers, using two speed boats and a hovercraft. Indiscriminae gunshots are still being still heard as the commandos land on the roof of the hotels, and sporadic fighting continues inside.
It seems that the terrorists are willing to fight for long as they have no shortage of water or food inside the hotels. They have not demanded any ransom, so this is essentially not a hostage situation, but more of a suicide mission. More will be updated soon.
Sources said these men, who may have come from Lashkar-e-Toiba, were divided in pairs of two each and were asked to fire indiscriminately in crowded places in the city. One pair of terrorists was shot at Girgaum in Chowpatty, when police men managed to stop the Skoda vehicle, in which they were trying to flee as they fired their weapons indiscriminately.
The audacious attack was well-coordinated and was said to be executed by Lashkar-e-Toiba. A CD found on one of the slain terrorists revealed that they were thoroughly briefed on the places to be attacked and the tactics to be used.
After disembarking from a hijacked police car, they entered Nariman House, in a pre-planned manner and held the Israeli families as hostages.
They also started firing their weapons after taking positions in the buildiing and are still holding out. Security forces have cordoned off the house. Maharashtra deputy chief Minister RR Patil said that atleast one suspected attacker had been arrested and is being interrogated by RAW (the research and analysis wing of the Intelligence Bureau) and the Mumbai police. He also revealed that 11 policemen, including some of the top cops of the anti-terrorists squad, had been killed.