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Nearly 80 Confirmed Dead in Mumbai Siege

By VOA News
26 November 2008

India's financial capital, Mumbai, is under siege, as heavily armed attackers have targeted numerous locations throughout the city in an unprecedented, ongoing assault.

At least 80 people are confirmed dead, with some of the city's top law enforcement officers among those killed, including Mumbai's anti-terror chief Hemant Karkare.

Hospitals are filled with casualties, and authorities say at least 200 have been wounded so far.

Police say gunmen with automatic weapons and grenades have attacked at least nine different places in this highly coordinated series of terror attacks. The sites include two train stations and two luxury hotels - "The Taj Colaba" and the "Oberoi-Trident" - as well as hospitals, a restaurant popular with tourists, and a dockyard.

Flames and plumes of smoke are billowing from the top of the Taj Hotel. Army troops have moved into the luxury hotel.

Authorities say gunmen are believed to be holding hostages in the hotels, but the number of hostages is not yet known.

Authorities also say two gunmen have been killed and nine have been arrested in this siege.

A businessman from London, Rakesh Patel, who escaped from the Taj Hotel told local television that attackers specifically wanted people with British or American passports.

The motive for this assault is not immediately clear. Local media report a previously unknown militant group, called the Deccan Mujahideen, has claimed responsibility for the attacks. It is not clear if this claim is credible.

The railway inspector general in Mumbai, KP Raghuvansh, says the attacks are terror-related.

Islamic militants have been blamed for past bombing attacks in the city.

India's Home Minister Shakeel Ahmed says the main priority is to overpower the attackers.

A member of parliament from southern Mumbai, Milind Deora, says the explosions were caused by grenades, not bombs. But witnesses say the gunmen also fired indiscriminately.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.



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