MUMBAI, India (AP) - Indian commandos killed the last remaining
gunmen holed up at a luxury Mumbai hotel late Friday, ending a 60-hour
rampage through India's financial capital by suspected Islamic
militants that killed 195 people and rocked the nation.
Orange flames and black smoke engulfed the landmark 565-room Taj
Mahal hotel after dawn Saturday as Indian forces ended the siege in
a hail of gunfire, just hours after elite commandos stormed a
Jewish center and found six hostages dead.
"There were three terrorists, we have killed them," said J.K.
Dutt, director general of India's elite National Security Guard
Some 295 people were also wounded in the violence that started
when more than a dozen assailants attacked 10 sites across Mumbai
on Wednesday night. Fifteen foreigners were among the dead.
Dutt told reporters outside the hotel his forces would continue
to search and clear it. A major in the commandos was killed in the
final assault, he said.
Some hotel guests were still believed to be in their rooms.
"They are still scared, so even when we request them to come out
and identify ourselves, they are naturally afraid," said Dutt.
Outside, anxious relatives stood in groups hoping family members
trapped inside would walk out. Many had been keeping a vigil since
the attack began.
With the end of one of the most brazen terror attacks in India's
history, attention turned from the military operation to questions
of who was behind the attack and the heavy toll on human life.
The bodies of New York Rabbi Gavriel Noach Holtzberg and his
wife, Rivkah, were found at the Jewish center. Their son, Moshe,
who turned 2 on Saturday, was scooped up by an employee Thursday as she fled the building. Two Israelis and another American were also
killed in the house, said Rabbi Zalman Schmotkin, a spokesman for
the Chabad Lubavitch movement, which ran the center.
Authorities scrambled to identify those responsible for the
unprecedented attack, with Indian officials pointing across the
border at rival Pakistan, and Pakistani leaders promising to
cooperate in the investigation. A team of FBI agents was ordered to
fly to India to help investigate.
On Friday, commandos killed the last gunmen inside the luxury
Oberoi hotel, where 24 bodies had been found, authorities said.
Dozens of people were evacuated from the Oberoi earlier Friday.
The group rescued from the Oberoi, many holding passports,
included at least two Americans, a Briton, two Japanese nationals
and several Indians. Some carried luggage with Canadian flags. One
man in a chef's uniform was holding a small baby. About 20 airline
crew members were freed, including staff from Lufthansa and Air
"I'm going home, I'm going to see my wife," said Mark Abell,
with a huge smile on his face after emerging from the hotel. Abell,
from Britain, had locked himself in his room during the siege.
As fighting stretched into a fourth day Saturday, the Taj Mahal
hotel was wracked by hours of intermittent gunfire and explosions,
even though authorities said earlier they cleared it of gunmen.
Indian forces launched grenades and traded gunfire with what
authorities believed was one or two militants holed up in the
ballroom. What appeared to be a black-clad figure toppled from a
Officials said at least 12 gunmen had been killed and one
arrested after the attack that shook the city and the country.
"There is a limit a city can take. This is a very, very
different kind of fear. It will be sometime before things get back
to normal," said Ayesha Dar, a 33-year-old homemaker.
In the most dramatic of the counterstrikes Friday morning,
masked Indian commandos rappelled from a helicopter to the rooftop
of the Chabad Lubavitch Jewish center as snipers laid down cover
For nearly 12 hours, explosions and gunfire erupted from the
five-story building as the commandos fought their way downward,
while thousands of people gathered behind barricades in the streets
The assault blew huge holes in the center, and, at one point,
Indian forces fired a rocket at the building.
Soon after, elated commandos ran outside with their rifles
raised over their heads in a sign of triumph.
But inside the Chabad House was a scene of tragedy.
Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak told Israel's Channel 1 TV
that the bodies of three women and three men were found at the
center. Some of the victims had been bound, Barak said.
The attackers were well-prepared, apparently scouting some
targets ahead of time and carrying large bags of almonds to keep up
their energy during a long siege. One backpack found contained 400
rounds of ammunition.
The gunmen moved skillfully through the blood-slickened
corridors of the Taj Mahal and Oberoi hotels, switching off lights
to confuse the commandos.
Authorities were working to find out who was behind the attacks,
claimed by a previously unknown group calling itself the Deccan
President-elect Barack Obama said he was closely monitoring the
situation. "These terrorists who targeted innocent civilians will
not defeat India's great democracy, nor shake the will of a global
coalition to defeat them," he said in a statement.
India's foreign minister said the blame appeared to point to
Pakistan. "According to preliminary information, some elements in
Pakistan are responsible for Mumbai terror attacks," Pranab
Mukherjee told reporters.
Jaiprakash Jaiswal, India's home minister, said a captured
gunmen had been identified as a Pakistani.
Pakistani Defense Minister Ahmed Mukhtar denied involvement by
his country Friday. "I will say in very categoric terms that
Pakistan is not involved in these gory incidents."
India has been shaken repeatedly by terror attacks blamed on
Muslim militants in recent years, but most were bombings striking
crowded places: markets, street corners, parks. Mumbai - one of the
most populated cities in the world with some 18 million people -
was hit by a series of bombings in July 2006 that killed 187
These attacks were more sophisticated - and more brazen.
They began at about 9:20 p.m. with shooters spraying gunfire
across the Chhatrapati Shivaji railroad station, one of the world's
busiest terminals. For the next two hours, there was an attack
roughly every 15 minutes - the Jewish center, a tourist restaurant,
one hotel, then another, and two attacks on hospitals. There were
10 targets in all.