M A I N   N E W S

Over. 183 dead. 327 hurt.
Mumbai attackers had planned an Indian 9/11, inspired by the bombing of the Marriott hotel in Islamabad. The Maharashtra govt said the aim was to destroy the Taj and kill as many as 5,000 people.
Shiv Kumar
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, November 29
Commandos of the National Security Guard ended the takeover of the iconic Taj Mahal hotel by terrorists since late Thursday night when the last of the three gunmen who were playing a cat and mouse game with the soldiers were shot dead a little before 9 a.m.

Personnel from the military, fire brigade and the Taj group of hotels were combing through the labyrinth of corridors and rooms inside the century-old hotel searching for survivors and enumerating the dead and wounded. So far, the number of dead during the terror attack across the city has been pegged at 183. In all 327 persons have been injured, according to police.

The list of dead includes 22 foreigners, two NSG commandos, 15 Maharashtra police personnel, one RPF constable and two Home Guards.

“Finally, we have been able to win the battle and do the job,” Jyoti Kumar Dutt, chief of the National Security Guard, told reporters after all the terrorists were killed. He added that two terrorists were fighting pitched battles from the hotel lobby. The last of the terrorists were killed when he tried to open fire at police and media personnel station outside the hotel. Commandos who shot him dead then threw out his body from the window of the ground floor of the hotel and on to the road.

“The operations will be declared over after we sanitise the hotel to ensure that no terrorist is still hiding in the premises,” Dutt said. The Taj has 565 rooms and a maze of corridors at the back that allow staff to access every part of the hotel unobtrusively.

While one terrorist was captured alive, nine gunmen were killed in the firefight with the security forces. So far, the sanitisation operation within the Taj Mahal hotel has resulted in the seizure of huge amount of ammunition, explosives and AK series of assault rifles. Police commissioner Hassan Gafoor said six grenades have been defused at the Taj Hotel.

Explosives experts deployed at the Taj Hotel have begun to defuse bombs planted by the terrorists after they took over the premises. Employees of the hotel who were rescued from the clutches of the terrorists have told police that the attackers were planning to blow up the Taj Hotel.

“Several employees were shot dead after they refused to obey the terrorists and assist them in burning down the place,” the police said. Some of the employees were shot above their ears in execution style to intimidate others, the police said.

Addressing the reporters at the conclusion of operations, Chief Minister of Maharashtra Vilasrao Deshmukh said the terrorists had come with enough ammunition to kill 5,000 persons.

Shortly after the operations were completed, the commandos escorted five hostages out of the hotel. So far around 250 persons have been rescued from Oberoi while 300 persons were taken out of the Taj hotel and 60 from the Nariman House.

The NSG announced today that sanitisation operations at the Oberoi Hotel has resulted in six more bodies being recovered from the premises.

Hotels accessing damage

The managements of the Taj and Oberoi said they were still to access the damage caused to their premises. “The National Security Guards are still conducting their risk assessment and till then we cannot estimate the damage, CEO and managing director Raymond Bickson of the Indian Hotels Company, which owns the Taj, said.

Meanwhile, Ratan Tata visited the Taj premises and congratulated the commandos and fire brigade officials who participated in the operations.

Bickson also denied reports that some staff members of the Taj had worked actively in assisting the terrorists. However, the police says some of the rescued staff members had told them of a few colleagues actually turning out to be terrorists themselves who had apparently infiltrated the organisation.

The authorities are also investigating the possibility of some of the terrorists checking into the Taj and Oberoi hotels as guests days before the terror attacks.




Terror Tale
A group of 12 took the sea route: Qasab
Shiv Kumar
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, November 29
The lone terrorist, who was arrested in the wake of Wednesday’s terror attacks in Mumbai, has given important information to the investigating agencies about the Lashkar-e-Toiba’s plans to launch sea-borne terror attacks on India.

Police sources said the terrorist, said to be around 22-year-old and identified as Ajmal Azam Qasab, had provided investigators with startling information about how the terrorists sneaked into Mumbai from Karachi.

The terrorists hijacked a fishing trawler off the Western Coast and killed the crew on board. One of the fishermen was kept alive to provide the terrorists with enough directions to reach the city’s coast. The hostage was then killed and the terrorists landed on the coast of south Mumbai.

Qasab has told the police that there were 12 terrorists.

The information provided by Qasab reportedly corroborates the information provided by the investigating agencies that the LeT’s marine wing had provided a number of terrorists with commando training and provided them with logistics support.




Manmohan calls all-party meet today

New Delhi, November 29
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has convened an emergent all-party meeting tomorrow to take stock of the internal security scenario in the country in the wake of terror attacks in Mumbai that claimed 183 lives, leaving 327 others injured. The meeting will be held at 7, Race Course Road at 1800 hours, informed sources said.

Opposition Leader L.K. Advani and Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi have openly demanded such a meeting for a threadbare discussion on the ways of dealing with terror especially its emanating from Pakistan.

Dr Singh, during his talks with Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani, had sought Inter-Services Intelligence chief's presence to help with the investigations of the attacks.

Patil kept out

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today discussed the operation, casualties, and the likely security fallout of the events of the last three days with top defence and home ministry officials. However, home minister Shivraj Patil was missing at the top-level meeting, as he was not called for the it, the sources added, indicating that the PM could be "cut up about Patil's handling of the Mumbai terror crisis. — UNI




Karkare family spurns Modi’s help

Mumbai, November 29
The family of slain Maharashtra ATS chief Hemant Karkare has declined Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi's offer of monetary help, sources said today.

Modi yesterday visited the residences of Karkare and encounter specialist Vijay Salaskar, who were killed while fighting militants on Wednesday night.

Modi also announced that his government would give Rs 1 crore to Maharashtra for the families of policemen killed in the attacks.

Karkare's widow and other family members have declined Modi's offer, the sources said.

Fourteen Maharashtra police personnel, including two IPS officers, sacrificed their lives while fighting terrorists. — PTI



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