Israel calls Indian troops' handling of Mumbai terror siege "risky and premature"

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Jerusalem, Nov 28 : After India turned down Israel's offer of help to defeat the militants holed up in two hotels in Mumbai, Israeli defence officials have reportedly criticised the way Indian security forces have handled the operation to flush out terrorists in Mumbai over the past three days.

The officials said that the Indian troops prematurely stormed the besieged hotels where militants were holding hostages, risking lives in the process.

"Indian counter-terrorist forces were well trained but failed to gather sufficient intelligence before engaging the terrorists. In hostage situations, the first thing the forces are supposed to do is assemble at the scene and begin collecting intelligence," the Jerusalem Post quoted them as saying.

A former official in Shin Bet, the Israel Security Agency, said: "In this case, it appears that the forces showed up at the scene and immediately began exchanging fire with the terrorists instead of first taking control of the area."

Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak also expressed his concerns about the safety of Israelis caught up in the attack, particularly in the Nariman House which houses the Jewish Centre.

The security experts' criticism came as it emerged that Barak had offered any assistance possible, either humanitarian or professional, to Indian Security Adviser MK Narayanan.

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