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Homeland Security

Commandos Free Some People From Mumbai Luxury Hotels

By Anjana Pasricha
New Delhi
27 November 2008

The Indian prime minister says the terror attacks in the country's financial capital, Mumbai, were carried out by militants based outside the country. Meanwhile, commandos have freed some people from the luxury hotels, the Taj Mahal and the Oberoi, which were invaded by heavily armed gunmen. An unknown number remain trapped or held hostage. There are several foreigners among the 101 people killed and more than 300 injured in the audacious and massive terror attack. Anjana Pasricha reports for VOA from New Delhi.

After a day-long operation, commandos and soldiers evacuated scores of people from the two luxury hotels - which were attacked by gunmen in Mumbai.

On Thursday, teams of commandos mounted an operation at three different locations, two luxury hotels and a Jewish center which were besieged late at night by terrorists. Explosions and bursts of gunfire were heard through the day as security forces stormed the buildings.

The gunmen are still believed to be holding hostages, including foreigners at the Oberoi Hotel. Officials say a British, Australian and Japanese national are among those who have died in the attacks.

Prime Minister says attackers based outside country

In an address to the nation, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said the attackers chose high-profile targets and indiscriminately killed foreigners to create a sense of panic.

"It is evident that the group which carried out these attacks based outside the country had come with single-minded determination to create havoc in the commercial capital of the country," he said. "We will take the strongest possible measure to ensure that there is no repetition of such terrorist attacks."

He warned neighboring countries who provide a haven to militants, and said there would be a "cost if suitable measures are not taken by them."

Police chief says aggressive operation targets terrorists

As the operation to flush out the terrorists continued into the evening, Mumbai's Director General of Police, A.N. Ray, told local television they are mounting an aggressive operation.

"Wherever there are these terrorists holed up, we will either catch them alive or shoot them," he said. "So, all our forces are completely geared up. Either they will kill them or nab them."

Information about how many terrorists are involved is sketchy. Authorities say several of them have been killed.

Gunmen entered Mumbai by sea

The heavily armed gunmen apparently entered the city via sea and mounted a series of coordinated attacks late Wednesday at 10 locations - including hotels, hospitals, a Jewish Center, a restaurant and a rail station.

India's thriving business hub shut down Thursday as authorities grappled with the most audacious terror attack in the country. Stock markets were closed, and several flights were canceled.

Mumbai has witnessed terror strikes in the past in 2006 bomb blasts targeting rail commuters killed 186 people. But this is the first time militants have specifically targeted foreigners.

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