Two more terrorists killed; two hostages freed from Taj hotel

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Mumbai, Nov 27 (UNI) Terrorists for the first time unleashed grenade and gun attacks on the country's financial hub and laid siege to two five-star luxury hotels after killing 107 people, including top police officers, and leaving 315 others wounded.

In the combined assault launched by the security forces, including the Army, Navy and National Security Guard (NSG), two of the five terrorists were shot dead. They were holed up on the fifth floor of the century-old Hotel Taj Mahal, even as the NGC commandos conducted huge controlled blasts to flush out the remaining militants. Earlier, four other terrorists were gunned down.

The terrorists have released all hostages holed up in the heritage structure, situated opposite the Gateway of India in South Mumbai.

However, the security sources claimed that the operation might last for another 12 hours, as they are still inside the building.

The violence that was sporadic till afternoon intensified in the evening, with 20 minutes of fierce battle. The terrorists sprayed bullets indiscriminately and hurled hand grenades inside the heritage structure and set the rear side of the fifth floor on fire.

In the attack, six foreigners were killed, including Italian national Antonia de Lorenzo.

A UNI correspondent was a witness to the hostilities of the terrorists, who appeared unnerved over the mighty strength of the Army, Navy and NSG.

Two more blasts had ripped through the old wing of the Taj Mahal Hotel.

The Army, which has taken full control of the operations, was trying its best to flush out the terrorists. The Army officials said the terrorists did not take any customer as hostage in the Hotel Taj Mahal, as all of them had locked themselves in their rooms.

Lt Col R K Hooda told reporters that the terrorists are fully armed with sophisticated weapons, including AK-47 and AK-56 rifles and high intensity explosives.

Meanwhile, in the nearby Hotel Trident, the gunfight between the terrorists and security personnel continued endlessly. The terrorists have held around 40 people hostage since last night.

The Coast Guard officials said they sent two Dornier aircrafts and two high speed motorcrafts on a 'hot pursuit' of the Vietnamese vessel 'MV Alpha', which allegedly brought a group of terrorists to Mumbai last evening.

''The ship has been identified and is being followed,'' he remarked.

Police said they have filed a case at the Byculla police station regarding a blast in taxi at Wadibunder last night.

(Editors please pick up suitably from earlier series).

UNI ST/GS/ZC SSS ATI KP2250

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