Terror in Mumbai India targets US, UK citizens

Times:

At least 80 people were killed tonight and 20 Westerners taken hostage as suspected Islamic terrorists mounted a series of co-ordinated attacks on India’s financial capital.

The gunman, armed with automatic weapons and grenades, targeted British and American tourists in the city’s luxury hotels and bars. They were reported to be holding Western tourists hostage at the Taj Mahal Palace, Bombay’s top hotel, where a group of British MEPs were staying.

As a swathe of violent incidents swept across the south of the city, hitting at least nine locations, security sources said “a major terror attack” was unfolding. A senior police officer said that “terrorists have used automatic weapons and we have reports that in some places hand grenades have been used”.

“We have reports of 80 people dead and at least 900 injured. Many have serious injuries and the toll will go up,” said P.D Ghadge, a police officer in the main control room in Mumbai. Hemant Karkare, chief of the police anti-terrorist squad in Bombay, was among the victims. Police said two terrorists had been killed.

Shootings were reported in the lobby of the five-star Taj Mahal Palace hotel in the Colaba area of south Bombay and at the nearby Leopolds bar, a popular destination with western backpackers. Witnesses described pools of blood and bullet-scarred walls at both locations.

“I guess they were after foreigners, because they were asking for British or American passports,” said Rakesh Patel, a British witness who lives in Hong Kong and was staying at the Taj Mahal hotel on business. “They had bombs.”

“They came from the restaurant and took us up the stairs.”

At the nearby Oberon hotel, a regular meeting place for businessmen and wealthy tourists, witnesses described a “high intensity” bomb blast.

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There is a video at the Times link and Sky News has several video reports at the bottom of this story. Reuters also reports on the attacks.

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An organization calling itself the Deccan Mujahideen claimed it was behind attacks, television channels said. The previously little known group sent an email to news organizations claiming responsibility.

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That suggest they are Islamic religious bigots engaging in mass murder for Allah.

CNN had a crew on the scene of one of the hotels under attack.

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Andrew Stevens, a CNN anchor who was staying at the Taj Mahal with a CNN crew, estimated about half the hotel's guests were Westerners. Video Watch the chaos as gunmen hit numerous targets »

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Video showed scenes of chaos, with people crowding Mumbai's streets, some helping others who appeared to be wounded. Video Watch scenes of destruction »

The attacks began about 2230 local time (1700 GMT) and more than two hours later witnesses were reporting new explosions and gunfire.

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Perhaps things will become more clear when daylight hits in a few hours. Ultimately, it will be another futile act of impotence on the part of the terrorist.

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