Mumbai, Nov.28 : Latest reports from the area around Nariman House and the Trident-Oberoi Hotel say that the firefight between the holed up terrorists and National Security Guard (NSG) commandos is still raging on.
The ten to twelve cornered terrorists have opened fire on advancing commandos from the eighth floor of the Trident-Oberoi Hotel that is still under siege.
Three fresh explosions were reported from the Taj hotel and Nariman House, which slowed down counter-terrorism operations. A fire is raging on two floors of the hotel and rescue operations are still on.
NSG commandos opened fire from a chopper at Nariman house, where two to three terrorists are believed to be holed up.
A witness said security forces had to fire into the building, apparently to provide cover, as commandos rappeled down a rope from the helicopter. NSG snipers were also positioned opposite the besieged headquarters of the ultra-orthodox Jewish outreach group Chabad Lubavitch early on Friday as a helicopter circled overhead. Militants were believed to be holed up inside the building - possibly with hostages.
The death toll in the audacious strikes in ten places across the city has climbed to 127 and 327 injured, the National Security Guard (NSG) said on Friday morning that they were close to mopping their search and counter-attack operations inside the Taj hotel and at Nariman House. The firefight at the third encounter site - the Trident Oberoi continues.
At 4 a.m. this morning, it was reported that all civilians holed up inside the Taj hotel had been rescued, while an hour-and-a-half earlier, seven had been rescued from Nariman House after a power blackout. It was also stated that six to eight personnel of Mumbai's Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) had entered the Trident-Oberoi, and that NSG commandos had cleared 17 floors of the Oberoi section of the hotel.
NSG chief J.K. Dutt told media persons in Mumbai that one terrorist inside the Taj hotel has been injured, and "I think we will be able to mop up the operation there very quickly."
He said the injured terrorist would be captured soon. As far as the operations at the Trident-Oberoi were concerned, Dutt said two terrorists are still holed up on the eighth floor of the Oberoi section of the hotel while the combing operation in the Trident section has been completed.
"As far as Trident is concerned, we have been able to completely clean up and we do not have any report of any terrorist being holed up over there. As far as Oberoi is concerned, yes, we He said that the operation to clean up the Nariman House was still going on.
Two grenade blasts were heard at Nariman House. Unconfirmed reports said three terrorists, including a Pakistani national, had been arrested by security forces at the Taj hotel.
The arrested terrorist was identified as Ajmal Amir Kamal, a resident of Faridkot, Multan. All three are said to be affiliated to the Lashkar-e-Taiba, reports said.
Late on Thursday night, the Union Home Ministry confirmed the death and injury toll as being 125 and 327 so far. It said that among the dead were 14 police personnel, including three senior officers, six foreigners and a Home Guard personnel.
Of the 327 people injured, 26 were policemen, 294 Indians and seven foreigners, it added.
Meanwhile, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee has thanked world leaders and his counterparts across the globe for their words of support and offers of assistance, but said that India has the wherewithal to deal with coordinated terror strikes.
"We are monitoring and tackling the situation ourselves and will bring the culprits to book in no time. However, it is taking time because we want to avoid civilian casualties," Mukherjee told a television channel over phone. He confirmed that he had received telephone calls from US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, as also the foreign ministers of Australia, Canada, Oman, Israel and the Secretary General of the Arab League, and appreciated their gesture.
He also said information was being collected about reports that Indian Navy and Coast Guard vessels were chasing down two ships off the Gujarat coast, which are suspected to have facilitated the landing of the terrorists in Mumbai.
So far five terrorists have been killed, besides several staff members of the two hotels.
Meanwhile, in a special joint operation conducted by Indian Navy and Coast Guard, the ship MV-ALFA was intercepted in Indian waters.
After being searched nothing incriminating was found and the ship was released. Captain Manohar Nambiar Chief PRO Defence in Mumbai said a heightened surveillance is being maintained along all sea routes.