Mumbai's war with terror ends

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Mumbai, Nov 29 (UNI) Mumbai's long-drawn battle with terror ended today as commandos of the combined forces gunned down the three terrorists holed up inside the century-old Taj Mahal hotel, ending the 59-hour-long siege to the commercial capital that left 195 people dead and more than 250 wounded.

City Police Commissioner Hassan Gafoor told newspersons that in the operation at the Taj hotel, three terrorists were killed by the elite National Security Guard (NSG) commandos.

Mr Gafoor said the NSG commandos were mopping up the operation and ascertaining whether any militant was still inside the hotel.

In this joint operation, personnel of the Army, NSG, Navy and local police participated.

National Security Guard (NSG) Director General J K Dutt said that two NSG commandos -- Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan and Havaldar Gajinder Singh -- were killed during the operations at the Taj and Nariman House. Singh fell to the terrorists' bullets during the operation ''Black Tornado'' at the Nariman house, while Major Unnikrishnan was killed at the Taj.

During the last two days, the security forces fought a hard battle to free the other five-star Hotel Trident-Oberoi and Nariman House, where the terrorists had held many people hostage.

In Hotel Trident, the terrorists had taken 40 people hostage, while in Nariman House they had kept the five Israeli nationals among others captive.

Over 350 National Security Guard (NSG) commandos and 400 combined police and armed forces personnel took active part in 'Operation Black Tornado', which lasted for 59 hours, to flush out the terrorists hidden inside the Hotel Taj Mahal, Hotel Trident and Nariman House.

In the fierce battle fought across other places besides these three locations, the terrorists opened fire indiscriminately and killed people in cold bood.

In the attacks, 195 people, including 22 foreigners and 14 policemen, were killed. Besides, more than 250 others were wounded, sources in the Disaster Management of Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) said.

The security forces who laid down their lives in the line of duty included 15 policemen including ATS chief Hemant Karkera, Additional Commissioner of Police Ashok Kamtea and encounter specialistSenior Inspector Vijay Salaskar.

Among the 22 foreigners killed were five Israelis, five Americans, two each from Australia, Canada and France, and one each from Germany, Britain, Italy, Singapore, Thailand and Japan, police sources said here today.

After the completion of 'Operation Cyclone' by NSG commandos at the Hotel Taj Mahal today, Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister R R confirmed that not a single terrorist was left in the city.

He said the dreaded group of 10 terrorists, who came to the city via the sea route from Karachi in Pakistan, were carrying arms, ammunition and other supplies to kill at least 5,000 people in the financial capital of the country.

Of them, nine terrorists were killed in the operation, while one, Mohammad Azmal Quasam, has been taken in police custody, he said.

He ruled out the involvement of the local people as well as the staff of the hotels in the attacks.

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