At around 10pm Wednesday, terrorists armed with heavy machine guns and grenades struck at Mumbai’s high-profile and busy targets — the CST (formerly VT) rail terminus, the luxury Taj Hotel at Gateway and The Oberoi and Trident (also known as the old Oberoi) at Nariman Point, Nariman House (a Jewish residential building) and the popular Leopold Cafe in Colaba.
At noon the next day, terrorists were still holding dozens of hostages in the luxury hotels. Media reports said the attackers were seeking out Americans and Britons. Indian security forces have surrounded the premises and were exchanging fire with gunmen At least 101 people, including six foreigners, have been killed and 287 injured. Among those dead also are three senior police officers, including Hemant Karkare, the head of the Anti Terrorism Squad (ATS). At the time of writing this, the encounter was continuing.
A Reuters report said “an Israeli family is being held hostage by gunmen in a Mumbai apartment, Nariman House. Local residents said a rabbi, his wife and two children live in and own the building, but it was not clear if they were the hostages. Gunfire could be heard from the area, a Reuters reporter on the scene said.”
Reports also asid that Israel’s Foreign Ministry is attempting to locate approximately 20 Israeli nationals missing in Mumbai. The Chabad House is located in Nariman House, a Jewish residential building. At noon the encounter at Nariman House was still going on. (Read Reuters story on Nariman House here)
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From the Times, UK: As thick black smoke billowed from its domed roof, and flames poured through its gothic arched windows, one Indian television anchor summed up the feelings of millions of watching Indians. “If America cannot forget the images of the World Trade Centre, this image of fire billowing out of this beautiful structure which represents Mumbai and its free spirit will not be forgotten here,” he said. More:
And from Reuters: “Sitting here watching the Taj burn down”
From India Uncut blog:
A Night Out In Mumbai (Updated)
This is turning out to be one crazy night. A friend of mine had an opening of her art exhibition a few hours ago, so we ventured to South Bombay for that. We attended the exhibition, sipped the litchee juice, nibbled on party snacks, and then six of us headed out for dinner. First we tried Indigo Deli, which is a couple of hundred metres from the Taj. We were told there would be a 25-minute wait. So we headed to All Stir Fry, the restaurant in the Gordon House Hotel in a lane down from there. They told us we’d have to wait 20 minutes. We stepped out again, and as we did so, we heard gunshots, and saw people running towards us from the left side.
One of the hotel employees rushed out and told us to get back in. “There must have been an encounter,” he said. “Get back in, you’ll be safe inside.”
We followed him in. We waited in the lounge-bar upstairs for a while. The big screen there was showing cricket. India won. Then someone changed the channel.
That’s when we realised that this was much more than a random police encounter, or a couple of gunshots.
My friend said to me ‘don’t be a hero, don’t say you’re British’
From the Guardian:
Alex Chamberlain, who works for the Indian Premier League website, said: “A guy burst in with a machine gun. He was in western dress wearing jeans and he asked for British and American tourists.
“They told everybody to stop and put their hands up and asked if there were any British or Americans. My friend said to me, ‘don’t be a hero, don’t say you are British’. I am sure that is what this is all about,” he told Sky News.
For a text of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s address to the nation in the wake of the terror strikes in Mumbai, click here.
On how the events unfolded, click here.