Commandos Launch Operations to Clear Luxury Hotels Seized by Gunmen in Mumbai
By Anjana Pasricha
27 November 2008
In India's financial hub of Mumbai, commandos and troops have mounted an operation to clear two luxury hotels seized by gunmen. Anjana Pasricha reports from New Delhi, at least 101 people have been killed and as many as 287 wounded in coordinated attacks mounted by terrorists at night.
A crack team of 200 commandos flew in to Mumbai from New Delhi early Thursday to take charge of rescue operations in two of the city's most posh hotels - the Taj Mahal hotel and Oberoi Hotel. Soldiers have ringed the hotels.
Sporadic gunshots could be heard outside as commandos entered the hotels.
The two hotels were among several high profile targets attacked by gunmen who fired indiscriminately and tossed grenades late Wednesday. Since then, an unknown number of people - both foreigners and Indians - are trapped inside parts of the hotels, popular with both business travelers and tourists.
Some foreigners are believed to be held hostage by the gunmen.
Some people evacuated overnight
Through the night, fire crews evacuated a number of people from the Taj Mahal hotel where a grenade apparently caused a huge blaze in a part of the building.
Some of the people trapped inside, like this guest at Taj Hotel, managed to communicate what was happening to reporters via their phones.
"Till about 15 minutes ago, near my room, in the stairwell, there was lot of firing going on, automatic weapons," says a guest. "The hotel management has done a very good job… They told us to turn the lights off, shut the curtains and stay inside and do not answer the door."
Home minister says attacks highly planned
Junior federal Home Minister Sri Prakash Jaiswal says the terror attacks were highly planned and some of the worst ever in the country.
Jaiswal says the government looks upon the terror attacks as a war and will fight it in the same way as a war is fought.
Mumbai has virtually come to a standstill as police have advised people to stay indoors. The stock markets have been shut as authorities cope with one of the worst terror attacks ever in the country. Among those killed were Mumbai's anti-terror chief and at least 11 policemen.
Hospitals are filled with casualties as hundreds have been wounded in the attacks. There are several foreigners among those hospitalized.
A little known group called the Deccan Mujahideen has claimed responsibility for the attacks.
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