Commandos to flush out terrorists
in Mumbai, 125 dead
Nov 27 (IANS) More than 24 hours after terrorists sneaked
into Mumbai from the sea to unleash India's most audacious
terror attack, commandos were Thursday night set to flush
out gunmen holding hostages in a luxury hotel, with at least
125 people already dead and 327 injured.
Minister Manmohan Singh flew into India's commercial capital
at night and drove straight from the airport to the JJ Hospital
to meet some of the injured even as a huge fire raged in the
landmark Taj hotel facing the seafront Gateway of India monument.
bursts of gunfire and explosions were heard from the Taj and
the nearby hotel Oberoi Trident as commandos from the National
Security Guard (NSG) threw a ring around the two places and
the Nariman Bhavan to isolate a small number of gunmen holding
hostages, foreigners included.
evening, NSG director general J.K. Dutt announced that only
two terrorists remained to be captured or killed in the Oberoi
complex while a single terrorist, injured but still free,
was holed up in the Taj. He also said his men were "in
total control of the situation" at Nariman Bhavan.
evening all hostages had been freed from the iconic Taj hotel,
one of the first of 10 targets of the terrorists.
the evening progressed, several hostages were seen walking
out of the Trident hotel and the Nariman House in south Mumbai
where the terrorists, believed to be from Pakistan, had fanned
out after landing in darkness at a fishing village Wednesday
night by boat armed with arms and ammunition.
no time, the gunmen began firing from automatic rifles and
hurling grenades, killing people at will. By Thursday evening,
the death toll had risen to 125, including about half a dozen
New Delhi, before flying to Mumbai, a grim looking Manmohan
Singh addressed the nation: "It is evident that the group
which carried out these attacks, based outside the country,
had come with a single-minded determination to create havoc
in the commercial capital of the country.
will take up strongly with our neighbours that the use of
their territory for launching attacks on us will not be tolerated
and that there would be a cost if suitable measures are not
taken by them."
the NSG were the army and the navy as well as the riot police.
they prepared for the final onslaught, three fires broke out
at the Taj extensively damaging the 105-year-old heritage
building. At the Oberoi, people were seen waving desperately
from the windows.
a motivated, well planned terrorist attack," added Major
General R.K. Hooda of the Indian Army.
grabs showed that some of the terrorists were young, trendily
dressed in jeans and T shirts and carrying rucksacks.
of them, calling himself Shahadullah, telephoned India TV
channel to say he was from the Indian city of Hyderabad and
belonged to a previously unheard of group called the Deccan
in Hindustani with an accent, the man said the attack had
been carried out to avenge the 1992 destruction of the Babri
mosque in Ayodhya and the "repression" of Muslims
in India. He said the hostages would be freed only in exchange
for the "mujahideen" in Indian prisons.
an army officer supervising the operations said the terrorists
were conversing in Punjabi. He said one arrested terrorist
was from Faridkot in Pakistan.
remained tense through the day, with few people venturing
out of their homes. Most suburban trains - the city's lifeline
- ran virtually empty. Schools, colleges and businesses were
shut. Wednesday's attack was the third major terrorist strike
in Mumbai since March 1993.
stunned international community condemned the wanton killings.
US president-elect Barack Obama asked Washington to work with
India to root out and destroy terrorist networks worldwide.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said: "Such violence
is totally unacceptable." The European Union also denounced
US, Britain, Canada, Australia and France were quick to warn
their citizens to avoid travel to Mumbai. The US embassy in
New Delhi urged its nationals to defer travel to Mumbai for
48 to 72 hours.
Chandigarh, Pakistan Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mahmood
Qureshi denounced the killings as "barbaric". He
said Islamabad had faced similar situations and it would be
immature to link the attack to his country.
the crisis and his promise not to take up divisive issues
now, Bharatiya Janata Party leader L.K. Advani was critical:
"The government itself is terming it intelligence failure,
so I should not say anything."
survivor stories were plenty.
Communist MP N.N. Krishnadas said after being rescued by commandos
Thursday: "I was having dinner with some colleagues when
two masked militants barged into the restaurant. They fired
indiscriminately. I saw three people being shot. The terrorists
left the room soon after."