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Wednesday, November 26, 2008


NIGHTMARE: Taj, Oberoi, CST, Santa Cruz Airport, Colaba And 2 Hospitals Among 8 Places Attacked By Terrorists, Killing 78 And Injuring 900 | Three Senior Police Officers, Including ATS Chief Hemant Karkare, Killed | 40 People, Including Foreigners, Taken Hostage | Firing By Terrorists Continues At Hotels, Cama & GT

Mumbai: In one of the most violent terror attacks on Indian soil, Mumbai came under an unprecedented night attack as terrorists used heavy machine guns, including AK-47s, and grenades to strike at the city's most high-profile targets—the hyper-busy CST (formerly VT) rail terminus; the landmark Taj Hotel at the Gateway and the luxury Oberoi Trident at Nariman Point; the domestic airport at Santa Cruz; the Cama and GT hospitals near CST; the Metro Adlabs multiplex and Mazgaon Dockyard—killing at least 78 and sending more than 900 to hospital, according to preliminary reports at the time of this edition going to press.
    The attacks have taken a tragic toll on the city's top police brass: High-profile chief of the anti-terrorism squad Hemant Karkare, additional commissioner (ATS) Ashok Kamte and celebrated encounter specialist Vijay were gunned down. Besides, ten constables have been critically wounded. Nine terrorists were caught and two shot dead in the course of the seemingly endless nightmare. A group of women and children were holed up in a ward of Cama Hospital with some terrorists raining fire from the fourth floor of the building, according to government spokesperson Bhushan Gagrani.
    The attacks appeared to be aimed at getting international attention as the terrorists took up to 40 British nationals and other foreigners hostage. The chairman of Hindustan Unilever Harish Manwani and CEO of the company Nitin Paranjpe were among the guests trapped at the Oberoi. All the internal board members of the multinational giant were reported
to be holed up in the Oberoi hotel.
    Some media reports attributed the attack to Lashkar-e-Taiba. A TV channel claimed that it had received an email from an organisation called Deccan Mujahideen
claiming responsibility for the coordinated terror attacks. There were also unconfirmed reports that some of the terrorists came in by sea. A boat laden with explosives was reportedly recovered later at night off the Gateway of India.
    Well after midnight, sources said two of the terrorists were shot and wounded at Girgaum in south Mumbai. The two were driving in a commandeered silver-coloured
Skoda car. Earlier, these men had sprayed bullets from a police Bolero, outside the Metro Adlabs multiplex.
    The attacks occurred at the busiest places in the metropolis.
Besides hotels and hospitals, terrorists struck at Metro Junction, Crawford Market, Wadi Bunder and on the Western Express Highway near the airport. Many of the sites attacked are in close proximity to the police commissioner's office. "This is definitely a terrorist strike. Seven places have been attacked with automatic weapons and grenades. Terrorists are still holed up in three locations—Taj and Oberoi hotels and G T Hospital. Encounters are on at all three places,'' said Maharashtra DGP A N Roy.
Anti-terror chief, encounter cop dead
Three senior police officers—ATS Hemant Karkare, encounter specialist Vijay Salaskar and addl commissioner Ashok Kamte—were killed in the terror strike on the city. Ten other police personnel have been injured seriously.

Firing around several landmark buildings in Colaba-Nariman Point area, including Taj Gateway hotel and Oberoi Trident hotel
    Top floor of Oberoi was said to be on fire amid reports of blasts in the area; blood-smeared bodies were brought out of Taj lobby
    Firing and blasts also reported from Mazgaon, the Metro Junction, Crawford Market and Colaba
    2 men sprayed bullets outside Metro multiplex. Both later killed
    Firing and bombing apparently began close to Gateway of India just before 10pm. The gunbattle then moved towards CST and raged on for over 45 minutes
    About 20 European Union MPs are believed to be staying at the Taj. Their safety is yet to be ascertained
'Some terrorists may be hiding in CST'
    St George's Hospital and G T Hospital were said to have received 75 bodies and more than 250 injured people, additional municipal commissioner R A Rajeev said. Bombay Hospital got two bodies and 30 injured people were admitted there; Cooper Hospital at Vile Parle got three dismembered bodies.
    Three of the deaths occurred inside the Taj and one G T Hospital attendant died in a shootout inside the hospital. There were reports of people cowering under tables and chairs at both the Taj as well as G T Hospital. Metro Junction resident Manoj Goel said: "My brother, Manish, died in the firing at Colaba's Hamaal Galli.''
    Cops fired back at the men—probably from one of the Lashkar groups, dressed in black and with backpacks and SRPF, Crime Branch, ATS and teams of military commandos were summoned to the spot. Train services at CST were suspended and all roads leading to and from south Mum
bai were blockaded.
    Chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh promised "stringent action'' against the assailants but the mood across Mumbai was not so optimistic.
    There were reports of firing around several landmark buildings in the Colaba-Nariman Point area, including the Taj hotel, Oberoi and other tourist attractions and pubs like Leopold's. The first two floors of the Oberoi were said to be on fire amid reports of blasts in the area and blood-smeared bodies being brought out of the Taj lobby. Terrorists were said to be holed up at the Taj as well as G T Hospital and cops scampered to cordon off these places. A white flag was seen fluttering from an Oberoi Hotel window around 11.20 pm, where a blast was said to have occurred.
    The blast on the Western Express Highway—near Centaur Hotel outside the airport—occurred in a vehicle, deputy commissioner of police Nissar Tamboli said.
    The firing and bombing started close to the Gateway of India. The gunbattle
then moved on towards CST and raged on for over an hour from 10 pm, sending commuters running out of the station.
    The assailants also fired into the crowd at CST and people on the trains and then ran out of the station themselves and into neighbouring buildings, including Cama Hospital, after being challenged by cops.
    SRPF personnel then entered the iconic BMC building, just opposite CST, to take aim at the assailants, BMC commissioner Jairaj Phatak said. "We fear some of the assailants are still inside the station and we want to catch them if they come out,'' a police official said.
    Vikhroli police station senior inspector Habib Ansari was on his way to work from his Colaba home when he saw two armed men, with sophisticated weaponry, trying to run into bylanes near the Gateway of India. "I rushed back to Colaba and all policemen, including GRP and RPF personnel, were called up,'' he added.
    Just before going to press, fresh blasts were reported at the Taj and Oberoi Trident.

Top: A policeman gives water to an injured child in hospital, Above: A vehicle blown up in Vile Parle

FACES OF TERROR: Two of the assailants at CST during the gunbattle

A picture of one of the assailants, taken by our photographer from the window of the TOI office in Mumbai

NIGHT OF TERROR: (Clockwise from top) Bystanders duck for cover as terrorists open fire at Metro junction. A dog squad inspects the Skoda that was used by the terrorists Policemen cordon off the Oberoi



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