Fire breaks out at Hotel Taj; terrorists still holding out

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Mumbai, Nov 29 (UNI) At least one terrorist was killed in the final phase of operation at the Hotel Taj Mahal on the fourth day of terrorist siege this morning.

The renewed battle against the terrorists began this morning in one of the wings of the ground floor of the Taj hotel, from where huge fire and smoke could be witnessed.

The National Security Guards (NSG) said the operation was still on.

It is believed that there were upto five terrorists inside. They were apparently well stocked with supplies and ammunition, source said.

The fire broke out in the Ballroom situated on the first floor and ground floor of the heritage wing of the Taj Mahal Hotel, as the fighting escalated between security forces and terrosists holed up inside the building.

Fighting intensified at the break of dawn at around 0630 hrs, with both sides exchanging gunfire and lobbing of grenades. Sounds of automatic weapons and hand grenade blasts filled the air around the Wasabi restaurant, which is situated near the Ballroom of the Hotel Taj. The gunfire can be heard from the front and rear parts of the century-old building.

The Fire Brigade personnel were busy dousing the fire from spreading it to the other parts of the building.

The security forces launched the final assault with a classic pre-dawn attack on the Hotel at around 0300 hrs.

Unconfirmed reports say that the hotel lobby area and other parts are strewn with dead bodies, a majority of them tourists. The terrorist attack which started on Wednesday night has so far claimed 125 lives and over 300 injured.

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