Mumbai hostage crisis heads
for dramatic finish; commandos airdropped
Nov 28 (IANS) Thirty-three hours after it began, a hostage
crisis seemed headed for its final denouement here as Indian
special forces Friday morning dramatically slithered down
ropes from two military helicopters to the roof of a five-storey
building to flush out terrorists holed up there.
the ground, some 100 other commandos massed in the lane leading
to the Nariman House - known among Israelis as Chabad House
- one of the three buildings seized by the terrorists Wednesday
night, and on adjacent rooftops provided covering fire in
what seemed to the final decisive stage of the operation.
first of the choppers arrived overhead at around 7.30 a.m.
and some six commandos, their ankles gripping the rope, slithered
down to the roof of Nariman House with one hand, balancing
their AK-56 assault rifles in the other.
second helicopter arrived soon thereafter with another six
force initially assembled on the roof of Nariman House before
storming the building, where it is believed some six to eight
hostages are still being held.
the helicopters whirring protectively overhead, gunfire and
explosions were heard as the commandos moved down the building.
House is a Jewish religious and residential complex and was
one of three buildings the terrorists seized Wednesday night.
commandos also fanned through the Taj Mahal Palace and Tower
Hotel and the Oberoi-Trident hotel to sanitise them room by
room and floor by floor before sounding the all-clear, which
officials said, could still be a while away.
least 125 people have been killed and 327 injured in India's
longest hostage crisis that has been likened to the country's
erupted from the Nariman House around 7 a.m. as the commandos
on the ground were taking position. A second round of firing
was heard about 15 minutes later.
the operation progressed, the authorities pushed back TV news
channel crews from the scene, banning them from beaming live
pictures from the scene. The position, however, changed as
an Indian Air Force Mi-17 helicopter arrived on the scene
with the commandos.
three explosions were heard at the Nariman House. Two explosions
followed in quick succession around 2.30 a.m. and a third
was heard just before 5 a.m., even as snipers were moving
in on the ground.
at the site said it was surprising that there was no retaliatory
fire from the terrorists as the hostages were being brought
out but the explosions occurred much later.
Bombay Stock Exchange was likely to reopen Friday after being
closed Thursday as the authorities struggled to cope with
India's longest hostage drama that has been likened to this
cinema halls and schools will, however, remain shut for the
second day Friday.