Mumbai under siege: A lowdown on attacks...

Written by: Pragathi K
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Mumbai, Nov 27: Its been recorded as the 'worst massacre' ever seen in Indian history. Uncalled for and unhidered, terrorists attacked nerve centres of pride of India- Mumbai on Wednesday, Nov 26... Possibly entered Mumbai through Gujarat, a group of 12 terrorists got into one of the many Gujarat Fisheries boats that come into Sasoon Dock, say Mumbai Police.

This time it was not one place or nor one religion, they just struck down anyone and everyone... even foreigners. And not market places... they targetted all high profile, high-security zone areas... Be it The Oberoi, The Taj or Nariman point. They had and still have the city under seige...

- At 21:30 IST, on Wednesday, Nov 26 a few guys casually dressed in jeans and t-shirts with AK-47s, grenades started firing at an upscale Mumbai restaurant Cafe Leopold, which is a popular destination among foreign tourists. They came in and asked all British, US nationals to lift up their hands and to show the passports, then started firing indiscrimanetly, said an eye-witness. The restaurant was riddled with bullet holes and there was blood on the floor.

After this encounter, between 2215 hrs IST and 2230 hrs, Taj Intercontinetal hotel was taken under seige. The terrorists started firing at police officials and para-military forces outside the hotel. The police officials said firing was on near the five-star hotel where around 2,000 guests and staff were stranded. Screams could be heard and enormous clouds of black smoke rose from the century-old hotel.

The encounter between police and terorists which started near Indioa Gated moved to the hotel premises and lasted for 45 minutes. Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) chief Hemant Karkare, who was spearheading the Malegaon bomb blast probe, Additional Commissioner Ashok Kamte and encounter specialist Vijay Salaskar were among the 11 police officials killed during gunbattle with the terrorists.

The guests were asked to bolt themselves up in their respective rooms and not to venture out till further notice.

The attackers specifically targeted Britons and Americans and took them hostage, witnesses said. Several European lawmakers were among people who barricaded themselves inside the Taj.

Atleast 4 to 5 terrorists are holed up in the Taj Hotel.

"I was in the main lobby and there was all of a sudden a lot of firing outside," said Sajjad Karim, part of a delegation of European lawmakers visiting Mumbai ahead of a European Union-India summit.

In early morning, National Security Guards commandos entered the Taj Intercontinental and Oberoi hotels and engaged terrorists in a fierce gunbattle. Army and Navy commandos are also inside the two hotels.

Visiting French nuclear physicist M George Vendryes and his wife, who was in Mumbai to receive the Indian Nuclear Society's (INS) Eminent Scientist Award were staying in Taj hotel, have been brought out safely from the terror-hit building.

Many guests have been evacuated from Taj Hotel and police have removed all journalists outside the Gateway of India area of the hotel.

- This is the first time terrorists have successfully targeted 6 or 7 places at random, which indicated that this was a well-iorganised attackl planned atleast for 6 months. Minutes later, bullets were fired near the Hotel Trident (Oberoi), another five-star hotel barely a kilometre away from the Taj. Part of the hotel was said to be on fire.

At least 1,000 tourists were trapped inside the hotel.

- An hour after this horror, Mumbai police got an emergency call from Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) Station at at 2233 hrs IST. A couple of terrorists entered the passenger hall of crowded CST railway station, formerly Victoria Terminus, and opened fire and threw a grenade killing two to three persons, Mumbai General Railway Police Commissioner A K Sharma said.

He, however, said 10 persons, including a policeman, were injured in the CST incident.

Eyewitnesses said some people suspected to be terrorists entered the CST building from outside the reservation counter and opened fire indiscriminately.

Two explosions also went off outside CST and eyewitnesses reported they heard gunshots outside the railway station building.

Even late into night, terrorists targeted Vile Parle and Mazegaon suburbs in Navi Mumbai. Two blasts in these areas injured unspecified number of people, police officials said.

Later, firing also took place near the Metro cinema, barely a kilometre away from the CST. An eyewitness said the attackers hijacked a police vehicle after opening fire at two policemen in the vehicle.

Five people were killed in a bomb blast targeting a taxi in Vile Parle. The taxi was blown to pieces, police said.

Late into the night, media reports say gunmen seized the Mumbai headquarters of the ultra-orthodox Jewish outreach group Chabad Lubavitch overnight, and that shots have now been heard coming from the building.

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