Thursday, 27 November 2008

Mumbai Under Seige

Woke up this morning with this news.

ReutersPosted: Nov 27, 2008 at 0836 hrs IST
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Mumbai Gunmen killed at least 101 people in a series of attacks in India's financial capital Mumbai and troops began moving into two five-star hotels on Thursday where Western hostages were being held, local television said.
Gunfire and explosions were heard at the landmark Taj Mahal hotel and thick plumes of smoke rose from the building, witnesses said. There were also explosions at the Oberoi hotel and firing at a hospital where gunmen were surrounded.
"The terrorists are throwing grenades at us from the rooftop of the Taj and trying to stop us from moving in," Ashok Patil, a police inspector said.
Police said at least 300 people were wounded in the attacks which also targeted a railway station and the Cafe Leopold, perhaps the most famous restaurant and hang-out for tourists in the city.
An organisation calling itself the Deccan Mujahideen said it was behind attacks, television channels said. The previously little known group sent an email to news organisations claiming responsibility.
"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," he told the NDTV news channel, smoke stains all over his face. "Young boys, maybe 20 years old, 25 years old. They had two guns."
India has suffered a wave of bomb attacks in recent years.
The latest attack, apparently aimed at least partly at prosperous Western tourists, is bound to spook investors in one of Asia's largest and fastest-growing economies.
Hemant Karkare, the chief of the police anti-terrorist squad in Mumbai, was killed during the attacks, police said.
"We have shot dead four terrorists and managed to arrest nine suspected terrorists," PD Ghadge, a police officer at Mumbai's central control room, told Reuters.
Japan's Foreign Ministry said one of its nationals was killed in the Mumbai attacks and one injured.
Mark Abell, a British lawyer, said he had locked himself inside his Oberoi hotel room after hearing two explosions.
Several hundred people had been evacuated from the Taj hotel, one witness said, but many more remained inside, some calling for help from the fifth floor. Firefighters broke windows to reach trapped guests.
"We came down the fire exit, but I think they took some more people, they are trying to get to the roof," one foreigner told local television. "I think about 15 people (have been taken hostage), about half of them are foreigners."
In Washington, the White House and US President-elect Barack Obama condemned the attacks, as did France, current President of the European Union, and United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.
A European official was among the wounded.
"My hotel is surrounded by police and there are gunmen inside," European lawmaker Ignasi Guardans told Spanish radio from the Taj. "We are in contact with some deputies inside the hotel, with one in a room and another hidden in the kitchen. There's another official hurt and in hospital."
Indian Home Minister Shivraj Patil said there were around four or five attackers in each of the two hotels.
"They have attacked hotels, they have attacked the hospitals, they have attacked the railway station," he said.
A driver told Reuters at least 50 Koreans were stuck inside the Taj with their drivers waiting outside.
"We were just getting ready to pick them up, when we heard the first blast, police did not let us get past and they (the Koreans) are not answering the phones," Deepak Aswar, the driver said. Europeans were also caught up in the attacks.
"I was in the restaurant inside Oberoi and I saw this series of gunshots and death which I don't want to see again," a Spaniard who declined to give his name told Reuters.
"I crawled out into the kitchen and waited there, until I sensed it was all quiet and seemed over."
Maharashtra state police chief A.N. Roy said attackers had fired automatic weapons indiscriminately, and used grenades, adding that they were still holed up in some buildings.
Sourav Mishra, a Reuters reporter, was with friends at the Cafe Leopold when gunmen opened fire around 9:30 p.m. He was injured and is in St George's Hospital.
"I heard some gunshots around 9:30. I was with my friends. Something hit me. I ran away and fell on the road. Then somebody picked me up. I have injuries below my shoulder," Mishra said from a hospital bed he was sharing with three other people.
Another Reuters reporter saw a hospital ward full of injured people with bullet and shrapnel wounds. Many people were crying as the injured were brought in on trolleys.


We are watching the various news channels for reports. The terrorist drama is still being played out several hours after the initial attacks.

10 Fertilize my soul:

Felisol said...

Oh, Amrita,
I will keep on praying for you, your mom, your church, the Christians of India, the nation India.
From Felisol

Jeanette said...

This is so terrible and frightening... We are watching the news, too, and I'm praying for you.

Julia Dutta said...

Hi Amrita,
The very worst in India - Ever! They have now asked for a ransom. At Leopold Cafe, an Eye witness' account:

Mumbai gunmen were like young 'boys', say eyewitnesses

Mumbai, Nov 27 (PTI) With Indian intelligence and security agencies still groping to identify the terrorists who have struck at the country's financial capital, three Australian victims have now come out describing them as "young boys."

The description came from two young Australian tourists, David Coker (23) and his partner Katie Anstee (24), who were among the first to come face-to-face with the terrorists in metropolis' famous bar 'afe Leopold' in Colaba.

"They looked just like boys and they were on a rampage -- It's a full-on."

David and Katie have arrived in the city to celebrate their graduation and they went to eat at Leopold, when terrorists struck.

"We have just sat down for dinner ordering food when it seemed fire crackers were blowing up all around us and people were screaming," the duo told the Sydney's Courier-Mail newspaper telephonically.

Katie was shot in the leg with the bullet breaking her femur while David was grazed by bullet and both had to flee.

David said, he had to virtually carry her girlfriend as she couldn't move.

"We got into a taxi which took us to Bombay hospital. We were, I think, the first people at hospital, which is where we are now," they said.

Another Australian TV actress Brooke Satchwell also had a harrowing ordeal to tell of her confrontation with another group of terrorist boys in the city's landmark Taj hotel.

Satchwell hid herself in a two-by-three metre cupboard for an hour to escape death.

I am not sure what is becoming of India

Julia Dutta said...

One more eye witness:
Former star of soap opera 'Neighbours', told a radio portal that she was inside the ground-floor toilets when the attack happened and "everyone just froze".

"As I stepped into the bathroom I could hear machine-gun fire start up in the lobby," Satchwell said.

"People started locking themselves into the toilet cubicles, which clearly wasn't a very good idea. But we were trying to find somewhere to hide," she said.

Satchwell, along with her boyfriend and about eight other foreigners, has now been moved to another hotel in south Mumbai.

"I can't even get my leg dressed, we can't go to the airport, that's been bombed, we can't go to the police centres, they've been bombed," Satchwell's boyfriend told the Herald from the hotel.

Recalling her ordeal at the Taj Hotel, the actress told the portal that hotel staff directed the group into the service cupboard, where she waited for up to an hour, hearing bursts of gunfire.

"Some of the hotel security came and ushered us very quickly down the corridor and across the lobby, clearly no one had a very good idea of what happened ... Or where we were meant to be heading at that stage," she said.

At least 20 Australians were in the nearby Oberoi hotel, which also came under attack, all of them members of a New South Wales delegation organised by the Department of State and Regional Development.

A Forty-nine-year-old Australian was "brought dead" to St George's Hospital in South Mumbai late last night. His body has been sent for a post-mortem.

At least 100 people have been killed and over 300 injured so far in the multiple terror attacks across the financial capital. Five star hotels, hospitals and Mumbai CST station were among the key targets.

Pat said...

I immediately thought of you and all the precious people of India when I saw the news report. My husband and I are praying for India. May God protect you and hold you in the palm of his hand.

Rebecca said...

As soon as I heard this news I went to your blog to check how you were seeing this..what terrible news for you to wake up to. I pray....what more can one say

Dick said...

Oh it's so terrible, the only thing I can think of is.....why?

Carol-Ann Allen said...

Amrita, you can know that all of us, all around the world, who have been following your blog, are devastated by this news! The first people we immediately thought of, I'm sure, were you and your Mama and the little congregation you love and serve. May the Lord watch over you and give you peace! Thanks, Julia, for the extra info!

Amrita said...

My dear friends, thank you so much for asking after us and for your prayers. This is a very dark time for our country.It is India 's 9/11

We are glad to be kept in the circle of God 's grace and safety.

Donetta said...

Thinking of you and Thankful that you are safe.