UPDATES: As of 4pm India time (+5:30 hrs GMT)
– Large quantity of RDX found at two locations.
– 148 hostages released after Commando raid on Trident Oberoi Hotels.
– Fighting continuing between remaining terrorists and Military.
– Jewish Hostages at Nariman Point still incarcerated.
By Chris Devonshire-Ellis
Thirty four hours after terrorists struck the heart of south Mumbai, national security guards have almost flushed out the terrorists from the Taj hotel. Armed men and helicopters continue in their quest to drive out the terrorists holed up in a Jewish center the Nariman House and the Oberoi-Trident. While fierce gun battle still persists, 125 have been declared dead, including 14 policemen and six foreigners, 327 are injured.
While the terrorists are most probably out to make an international statement by targeting tourist hot spots, the mass number of Indian casualties too cannot be discounted. Of the 125 already declared dead 119 were Indian nationals, a majority of the injured are also Indians, casual by-standers who were killed in random firing at public places that are usually very crowded.
Sources say a majority of the Indian’s who were killed were innocent people going home after a day’s work from the center of the city from Mumbai’s biggest railway station to their homes in the suburbs, or patients in hospitals and their relatives and staff at the targeted hotels. What is disheartening is that the Indians that are believed to have been killed hail not from the affluent part of south mumbai where they worked but probably from smaller towns and cities outside the city. Being a service centered city, Mumbai is known as the melting pot of Mumbai where millions come to make it big. Many of them end up working as waiters in hotels, nurses in hospitals and everyday clergymen.
– Hostages held in the Taj Hotel have all been freed.
– Hostages remain at the Oberoi Trident Hotel.
– Gun battles continue at Nariman Point siege.
– More explosions heard at Oberoi Trident.
– Tata says Taj Hotel “Will be rebuilt as it was before”.
Alex De Grunwald, the well known film production director and a personal friend of mine , has reported on scenes in Mumbai direct from his residence at The Royal Bombay Yacht Club, sited just 50 yards across from the sieged Taj Hotel, opposite the Gateway of India, where the terrorists are alleged to have come ashore to attack the city.
Mumbai, the current scene of bloody machine gun battles with grenades being thrown at civilians, firefighters and police, is India’s most cosmopolitan city. Facing the Arabian Sea, it is also it’s most Middle Eastern flavored, and the city is dotted with Parsi and Zoroastrian buildings and designs, all jostling for grandeur amongst the colonial architecture brought in by the British. For centuries, people of all faiths have traded in Mumbai. The Taj Hotel, now aflame, pock marked with bullet holes and rocked by explosions, was built by the founder of the Tata Group and is still operated by them. You were just as likely to see visiting Arabic businessmen in dish-dash-ah and headscarves in the lobby, milling around with American executives, visiting Chinese traders, and the wealthy India elite as anyone else. Yet now that same lobby has become a killing field in the name of Islam, if new reports coming to light confirm that the terrorists sped in by boat from Karachi, in southern Pakistan.
Karachi itself is the financial center of Pakistan, just as Mumbai is too India. One has to wonder about the lax security of the Naval base in Mumbai, the berths for the Indian Navy are just yards from the Gateway of India and the Taj Hotel itself, and being so one would have thought in-bound vessels should have been tracked on radar and identified. Yet the discovery of a boat full of weapons and ammunition moored just off the Gateway – and literally just across the street from the Taj – would seem to indicate security was relaxed.
The terrorist attacks in Mumbai have taken place directly in the heart of the commercial area of the city, where all the prestigious business locations, office buildings and some of the most expensive hotels are based. The area, known as Colaba, stretches down the coast and Marine Drive, where attacks took place on the Leopolds Café restaurant, several petrol stations and the Oberoi Trident Hotel at Nariman Point, up to the Gateway of India, just across from the Taj, and further down Horniman Circle and Mahapalika Marg, where Mumbai’s main train station (Chattrapati Shivaji Terminus) is located just close to the University of Mumbai. India’s most respected barristers chambers, as well as banks and other commercial businesses are all based in this area.
- – Nine foreigners; 14 policemen among 101 dead; 287 injured.
- – Five terrorists killed; one captured; three escaped.
- – Terrorists apparently came from Karachi by boat; Pakistani national caught.
- – About 20 Terrorists still holding people hostage at various points in South Mumbai.
- – An e-mail was sent from a Lashkar e Toiba account in Russia.
- -Commandos search and rescue hostage from the Taj and Oberoi Hotel.
- – 5-6 Terrorists still loose on Mumbai streets.
- – 800 Army personnel on Mumbai streets.
- – NSE, BSE stock exchanges closed today.
- – Limited trains and bus services throughout the city.
- – Global leaders condemn attacks.
India’s commercial capital, Mumbai has been attacked by terrorists who took control of the city since 10pm local time last night. Said to have come by road and sea, an unknown group called the Deccan Mujahideen have claimed responsibility for the attack, however it is yet to be ascertained as to which terrorist group these people belong to.
The terrorists are said to have focused their attack on Mumbai’s landmarks, hotels major tourist sites, hospitals, Mumbai’s largest railway station and the Municipal Corporation headquarters have all been attacked primarily targeting western tourists. Latest reports state that 100 people have been killed and 900 people hurt in 10 terrorist attacks across the city.
On Monday the IMF released a report stating that with the global financial crisis taking an increasing toll on Asian economies, many countries should consider monetary and fiscal stimulus in addition to measures to protect local financial systems. Supporting the IMF statement, the Asian Development Bank recently announced loans of US$70 million to India, US$1 million to the Philippines, US$300 million to China, US$ 10 million to Mongolia and US$700 million to Kazakhstan.
India will use the loan to start a Bus Rapid Transit System (BRTS) in the state of Maharashtra, the Philippines will upgrade irrigation facilities, while China will use the loan for a railway line that will connect western China with the south. The grant to Mongolia will be used to buy textbooks for poor children and the loan to Kazakhstan will help complete a highway project that traces the ancient Silk Road trading route. Continue reading