The Taj Mahal hotel attack: the worst unfolds

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Mumbai, Nov 29 (UNI) The bloody trail of death and destruction left behind by the terrorists, armed with grenades and AK-47 in their 59-hour siege of the Taj Mahal, unfolded today with the lobby, restaurants, passages and rooms strewn with bodies.

The deadliest and worst-ever attack on the financial capital of the country and its most popular luxury hotel, sought after by the elite in the Metropolis and affluent foreign tourists, has numbed many who could manage to scamper to safety.

''It was a sight that could have jolted anyone--terrorists barging into majestic conference rooms where marriage parties, birthdays and business events were underway, opening fire at point blank range. Even hotel staff, who offered resistence, were shot dead,'' an eye-witness to the horrific scenes told UNI.

As the operation 'Cyclone', launched by NSG and Army, came to an end after a pitched battle with the terrorists this morning, ambulances were rushed to the hotel, with anxious relatives awaiting with bated breath the fate of their near and dear ones.

As the bodies of the hotel guests and staff were brought out, there was an eerie silence. ''What had been done was barbaric,'' said a relative of a guest.

Several rooms and passages were splattered with blood, broken glass-panes and belongings of guests at the hotel. There were gasping holes in some rooms, an evidence of the grenade attack.

Outside the hotel, where access was possible after the curfew in the area since the last three days was lifted, lay big imported cars, with their window-panes and other parts pierced with bullets, a testimony to the onslaught by the terrorists after they arrived from the sea-route around 2145 hours on wednesday.

They had opened indiscrimate firing at people coming out of their cars before venturing into the hotel. All around the entrance and areas outside the hotel, lay debris of the fire-ravaged rooms and the dome.

Another luxury hotel 'The trident' in nearby Nariman point was freed from the clutches of the perpetrators of the terror attacks by the NSG commandos last night after a concerted flushing out operation.

UNI OBB PP ARB PK HT1650

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