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Indian troops raid hotels to free hostages

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Print By ANITA CHANG, Associated Press Writer Anita Chang, Associated Press Writer
– 8 mins ago Play Video AP – First person: India attack sends global message
Slideshow: Mumbai Terror Attacks Play Video Video: Indian PM condemns attacks
Reuters Play Video Video: Over 100 killed in India attacks Reuters AP –
Firefighters try to douse a fire at the Taj Mahal hotel in Mumbai, India,
Thursday, Nov. 27, 2008. Teams … MUMBAI, India – Black-clad Indian commandoes
raided two luxury hotels to try to free hostages Thursday, and explosions and
gunshots shook India's financial capital a day after attacks by suspected Muslim
militants killed at least 119 people.

About 10 to 12 gunmen remain holed up inside the hotels and a Jewish center, a top
Indian general said. The remaining gunmen appeared to have been killed or
captured, Maj. Gen. R.K. Hooda told New Delhi Television.

Authorities said 119 people died and 288 were injured when suspected Islamic
militants — armed with assault rifles, hand grenades and explosives — launched a
highly coordinated attack against 10 sites in the city Wednesday night.

Officials said eight militants were also killed.

Dozens of people were being held hostage at the hotels, as well as a nearby Jewish
center, by the well-trained and heavily armed gunmen, authorities said.

While hostages trickled out of the hotels throughout the day, witnesses said many
bodies remained inside and the two-day siege showed few signs of ending quickly.
Several bodies were carried out of the five-star Taj Mahal Palace and Tower hotel.

The attackers had specifically targeted Britons and Americans inside the hotels,
witnesses said.

Dozens of people were also apparently still hiding in their hotel rooms, terrified
by occasional bursts of gunfire and explosions, as well as fires burning in parts
of both hotels, and waiting for authorities to get them to safety.

After dusk Thursday, police brought hostages out of the Oberoi, one of the city's
best-known five-star hotels.

One man, a who identified himself as a Pole but did not give his name, told
reporters he had seen many bodies inside, but refused to give more details, saying
he had promised police not to discuss details of the rescue operation.

The Maharashtra state home ministry said 84 people had been freed from the Oberoi
— 60 of them hostages — and dozens more were still trapped inside.

Police said they were going slowly to protect the captives.

A previously unknown Islamic militant group claimed responsibility for the

carnage, the latest in a series of terror attacks over the past three years that
have dented India's image as an industrious nation galloping toward prosperity.

Among the dead were at least four Australian and a Japanese national, according to
the state home ministry. An Italian, a Briton and a German were also killed,
according to their foreign ministries.
The most high-profile target was the Taj Mahal hotel, a landmark of Mumbai luxury
since 1903, and a favorite watering hole of the city's elite.

Police loudspeakers declared a curfew around the hotel Thursday afternoon, and
commandos ran into the building as fresh gunshots rang out from the area. Into the
night, brief exchanges of gunfire and explosions could be heard coming from the

The attackers, dressed in black shirts and jeans, stormed into the hotel about
9:45 p.m. Wednesday and opened fire indiscriminately.

Dalbir Bains, who runs a lingerie shop in Mumbai, was about to eat a steak by the
hotel pool when she heard gunfire. She ran upstairs, taking refuge in the Sea
Lounge restaurant with about 50 other people.

They huddled beneath tables in the dark, trying to remain silent as explosions
went off.

"We were trying not to draw attention to ourselves," she said. The group managed
to escape before dawn.

The gunmen also seized the Mumbai headquarters of the ultra-orthodox Jewish
outreach group Chabad Lubavitch. Around 10:30 a.m., a woman, a child and an Indian
cook were seen being led out of the building by police, said one witness.

Chabad spokesman Moni Ender in Israel said there were eight Israelis inside the
house, including Rabbi Gavriel Noach Holtzberg and his wife.

Among those foreigners still held captive in all three buildings were Americans,
British, Italians, Swedes, Canadians, Yemenis, New Zealanders, Spaniards, Turks,
French, Israelis and a Singaporean.

At least three top Indian police officers — including the chief of the anti-terror
squad — were among those killed, said Roy.

The United States and Pakistan were among the countries that condemned the

In Washington, President George W. Bush offered Indian Prime Minister Manmohan

Singh "support and assistance" as he works to restore order in the populous and
growing Southwest Asian nation, according to White House press secretary Dana

The motive for the onslaught was not immediately clear, but Mumbai has frequently
been targeted in terrorist attacks blamed on Islamic extremists, including a
series of bombings in July 2006 that killed 187 people.

An Indian media report said a previously unknown group calling itself the Deccan
Mujahideen claimed responsibility for the attacks in e-mails to several media
outlets. There was no way to verify that claim.

Magnus Ranstorp, a terrorism specialist with the Swedish National Defense College,
said there are "very strong suspicions" that the coordinated Mumbai attacks have a
link to al-Qaida.

He said the fact that Britons and Americans were singled out is one indicator,
along with the coordinated style of the attacks.
India's prime minister blamed "external forces."

"The well-planned and well-orchestrated attacks, probably with external linkages,

were intended to create a sense of panic, by choosing high profile targets and
indiscriminately killing foreigners," Singh said in address to the nation.

Indian navy spokesman Capt. Manohar Nambiar said navy officers had boarded a cargo
vessel that had recently come to Mumbai from Karachi, Pakistan. Hours later, he
said nothing suspicious had been found on board and the ship had been released.

Mumbai, on the western coast of India overlooking the Arabian Sea, is home to
splendid Victorian architecture built during the British Raj and is one of the
most populated cities in the world with some 18 million crammed into shantytowns,
high rises and crumbling mansions.

Among the other places attacked was the 19th century Chhatrapati Shivaji railroad
station — a beautiful example of Victorian Gothic architecture — where gunmen
sprayed bullets into the crowded terminal, leaving the floor splattered with

"They just fired randomly at people and then ran away. In seconds, people fell to
the ground," said Nasim Inam, a witness.

Other gunmen attacked Leopold's restaurant, a landmark popular with foreigners,

and the police headquarters in southern Mumbai, the area where most of the attacks
took place. Gunmen also attacked Cama and Albless Hospital and G.T. Hospital.


Associated Press writers Ramola Talwar Badam, Erika Kinetz and Jenny Barchfield in
Mumbai, Raphael G. Satter in London and Cristian Salazar in New York contributed
to this report