Mumbai’s Worst Ever Terrorist Attack – Updates

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Mumbai, (28th Nov. 2008 2030 hrs)

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The Current Updates

“Operation Nariman House Over, All Hostages Dead”

After ‘Yes-No’ reports for over 3 hours, the NSG finally confirmed that the third floor of Nariman House (Now known as Chabad House) had been cleared and that unfortunately all five of the hostages had been killed. Two terrorrists were also slain in the encounter.

Since 1640 hrs, the NSG intensified their operations at Nariman House, systematically attacking floor after floor. Spectacular explosions were observed as the NSG used rocket-propelled grenades to clear out the said building.

At around 1750 hrs, the NSG blew out a window on the fourth floor. A major explosion earlier, left a gaping hole in the wall on the first floor. The commandos therefore could clearly be seen surveying the cleared floors. And so, at around 1840 hrs, amidst confusion and speculation, the media prematurely declared that ‘Operation Nariman House was completed and the hostages were safely rescued’ (India TV & Star News).

Unfortunately, at 1905 hrs, the NSG confirmed that terrorists had killed all five hostages.

Reports yesterday suggested that a Jewish Rabbi and his family were amongst the hostages. The terrorists had even released the Rabbi’s son along with his nanny. The focus then shifted to the rescue of the Rabbi and his wife. News reports revealed that there was increasing diplomatic pressure on India as far as their safety was concerned.  The fact that the commandos haven’t been able to rescue the said hostages is certainly a big blow.

” Operation TAJ Still Unfinished. “

Despite all hostages being successfully rescued last night, the NSG commandos are yet to uproot the terrorists holed up inside the Taj. Reports as to how many terrorists were still inside the Taj lacked unanimity throughout the day. Some channels speculated that there was one terrorist who was possibly injured (CNN-IBN).  Others claimed that there were two (India TV).

The NSG earlier requested the media not to relay live coverage of the operation as it was becoming a disruption. Subsequently  there was a black out of news channels in several parts of the city, as well as in Thane and Navi Mumbai.

The operation has now greatly intensified with as many as 17 explosions being carried out by the NSG within a span of 20 mins between 1750 hrs to 1810 hrs. The supply of electricity which was earlier cut off, was resumed after sundown to facilitate the operations of the NSG.

In a freak accident, 3 members of the media were hurt by shrapnel after an explosion was carried out on the first storey of the TAJ.

“Operation Oberoi-Trident Accomplished, 24 found Dead.”

The NSG confirmed at around 1430 hrs that the operation at the Oberoi-Trident Hotel had been successfully completed and that the hotel was now under control of the NSG. Mumbai Police Commissioner Hassan Gafoor confirmed that 24 dead bodies were found in the premises today, in addition to the 6 bodies found yesterday.

The NSG claimed to have gunned down 2 terrorists at the Trident.

The operation showed encouraging signs as early as 1255 hrs when Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh confirmed that the Oberoi section of the hotel had been totally cleared and that the Trident section was almost clear.

The NSG is currently second-checking the premises and looking for possible clues that can aid the investigation.

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Mumbai’s Tryst With Terror

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Updates as of 28/11/2008 1330 hrs

There have been fresh rumors of firing once again at CST station.  While initially the reports were played down as rumors, some media outlets have gone ahead and confirmed it.

Rediff reported at 1318 hrs: “Firing reported outside CST. The attackers used semi-automatic weapons”.

Aaj Tak speculates that 3-4 loctations including the RBI building have been attacked by firing.

CNBC TV-18, reported at 1330 hrs that terrorists may have taken 15 hostages and also showed footage from the CST CCTV cameras.

RPF continue to deny the attacks. Trains have been suspended at CST and the station has been evacuated. Further clarifications awaited.

Operation TAJ just doesn’t seem to end. Reports around the same time yesterday said the TAJ siege was almost over but it was not until 2337 hrs last night that the final hostages were rescued. The NSG are still speculating the number of terrorists still holed up inside the TAJ. Earlier it was suspected that there was one terrorist who was injured. But grenade attacks and fresh firing indicate that that may not be the case.

At the Trident, 2-3 terrorists may still be holed up inside. Intermittent firing and grenade blasts. A blazing fire broke out at around 1900 hrs yesterday.

At Nariman House, NSG suspects 4-5 terrorists are still holed up inside. A Rabbi and his family are believed to be amongst the hostages. The operation has greatly intensified with frequent firing and grenade blasts. Helicopters are still providing aerial cover.

A Round-Up of EventsYesterday (This section was last updated on 27/11/2008, 1800 hrs)

“Death toll rises, IB confirms  MV Alpha, the vessel aboard which the terrorists came to Mumbai has been located.”

Police have announced a curfew in South Mumbai for today. All schools, colleges and markets in the city will also remain closed for the day. The local trains which were suspended last night have resumed services but are running empty as few dare to venture out on the streets today. The death toll has risen to around 101, as many as 287 have been injured in the blasts. The figures are expected to rise.

Five terrorists have been killed and one arrested so far. Six however still remain at large. The six have reportedly fled in a government Jeep and a Toyota Qualis stolen from the Police (the same one which was seen shooting at passers-by near Metro Cinema last night. Police have given out the registration numbers of these vehicles, which are periodically being flashed on major News channels.

A little known Terrorist outfit, The Deccan Mujahideen from Hyderabad, have claimed the responsibility for the attack. At around 1130 hrs India TV aired what was allegedly a phone call from the terrorists holed up inside the TAJ Hotel. From their accents, the alleged terrorists sounded like they were from across the border and not from Hyderabad, India.

The IB has arrested Ismail, a terrorist from Faridkot, Pakistan belonging to the Lashkar-e-Tayiba outfit. Terror emails have been traced to Russia. The terrorists, as the IB reports, came to the shores of Colaba aboard MV Alpha, a merchant vessel registered in Vietnam. The Navy and Coast Guard have managed to track down the said vessel at a port in Gujarat. Investigations are under way. Local eyewitness accounts near the Gateway of India suggest that the terrorists came to South Mumbai in several dinghies, each of them carrying haversacks and plastic bags, possibly filled with explosives.

The Police earlier today, found a boat laden with RDX explosives at Sassoon Docks. There were reports of a blast in a luxury bus near Sanjay Gandhi National Park, Borivali earlier this morning, as well reports of firing in Borivali at around 0245 hrs.

The Army has deployed 200 more commandos to deal with the terrorists. The Mumbai Police Commissioner earlier said, “We will not negotiate with them. We will either nab them or kill them!”

The Grenadiers battalion of the army and the NSG commandos however are still engaged in hostage situations with the terrorists holed up in the Trident Hotel and Cama Hospital and Nariman House.

Here are the latest updates on the rescue operations at Nariman House, The TAJ, The Trident and Cama Hospital:

Nariman House

“Army prepares for Final Siege, Helicopters Deployed.”

Grenade blasts were heard outside Nariman house at around 1705 hrs. The Army and the Police are engaged in a joint operation to end the hostage situation at Nariman House. Reports suggest that seven terrorists around 25 years of age are hiding inside Nariman House and are holding seven hostages. Helicopters have been deployed to provide aerial cover to the ground troops

At 1330 hrs, reports came in about the death of a terrorist in an encounter at Nariman House (a residential building where many Israeli families currently in India are residing). Subsequently three of the hostages managed to escape from there safely.

The TAJ Hotel

“Four Storeys Sanitized, Fifth Goes Up in Flames. 40 Bodies Recovered”

Earlier this afternoon, all signs seemed to suggest that the Gun battle at the TAJ had ended. Reports that are now coming in say that Terrorists have set fire to the fifth storey of the TAJ after the army earlier managed to clear four floors. Forty dead bodies were found on the first four floors. Police claim that four of those were suicide attackers. The commandos are now locked in a final battle with the terrorists holed up in the TAJ. There have been reports of loud explosions outside the TAJ as recently as 1640 hrs.

As of 1402 hrs all hostages were rescued as reports by CNN-IBN suggested.

At 1315 hrs , Rajdeep Sardesai, Editor-in-Chief, CNN-IBN, reported from outside the TAJ that six dead bodies of hostages had been pulled out of the TAJ. One NSG commando also reportedly succumbed in the gun battle for the TAJ. The Army commandos have told the media that the rescue operation may stretch into the late hours of the day once again owing to complicated structure of the TAJ hotel. Pictures of hostages waving from the windows that have the words ‘Save Us’ written on them are constantly being flashed on our screens. Three Members of Parliament as well as many foreign nationals are still stuck inside the TAJ hotel. Earlier a top French Nuclear Scientist was rescued from the hotel as well. Reporters outside the TAJ claim to have seen smoke coming from the top floors of the hotel.

The Trident

“NSG Clears Floor After Floor. 35 Hostages Still Held By Terrorists.”

The Army and the Police are engaged in a joint operation whereby floor after floor is systematically being cleared, often with the help of explosions by the NSG. Around 18-20 rounds of firing were heard coming from the Trident at around 1655 hrs. Figures suggest that the terrorists may be holding about 35 people as hostages.

The police had taken the hotel off the ‘critical’ list in the early hours of the morning after the commandos took over the operation. At around 11 o’clock , a woman and a child were successfully rescued from the Trident.

The Cama Hospital

“CM Says: No Hostage Situation”

This was the spot where ATS Chief Hemant Karkare and encounter specialist Vijay Saluskar succumbed in a battle with the terrorists last night. At about 0620 hrs, Maharashtra Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh assured that there was no hostage situation at the Cama Hospital. At around 0900 hrs, the army entered the Cama Hospital and began firing at the terrorists holed up in the hospital. No further news has been reported from the said location since.

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The Story Last Night

Mumbai (0209 hrs):

Mumbai has been under attack for over 3 hours now. It all began at around 2230 hrs with reports of gun shots at Cafe Leopold in Colaba. That has now snowballed into the biggest terrorist attack the nation has ever faced.  Three top police officials including ATS Chief Hemant Karkare and a DIG have been killed in the violence.

Blasts and AK-47 attacks have been reported in various locations in Mumbai. Major hotels such as Trident and the TAJ  have been under siege for over 2 hrs. Terrorists have taken many foreign nationals from UK and US as hostages. Police and CRPF are engaged in bloody gun-battles with the terrorists hiding in these hotels.  Other five-star hotels such JW Marriot and Hotel Ramada in Juhu witnessed gun-fire as well. At the time of writing, approximately 60 civilian casualties and 190 injuries have been reported. 17 Police officials have been killed in various encounters across the city. 15 terrorists have been killed by the Police so far.

Cellphone networks such as Vodafone crashed for about an hour between 2300 and 0000 hrs. The IB has confirmed this as a terrorist attack. Citizens have been asked to maintain calm as far as possible. It would be advisable to stay home tomorrow.

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The First Report

Mumbai (2300 hrs) : As I write this Mumbai is under attack again. Twenty minutes ago reports came in about AK-47 firing in various South Mumbai locations and soon there were reports of blasts.

Blasts have been confirmed in the following locations

  1. BMC Headquarters
  2. Dockyard Road  – 3 casualties so far.
  3. CST Station (Platform 9 and 10) – 10 casualties reported.
  4. Santacruz
  5. Vile Parle (Taxi Blast on Western Express Highway. 5 casualties reported)
  6. Mazgaon
  7. BPT Colony
  8. BP Petrol Pump (Colaba)

Incidents of AK-47 firing have been confirmed at the following locations:

  1. Cafe Leopold (Colaba)
  2. Hotel Oberoi
  3. The Taj Hotel – 16 casualties reported
  4. Gateway of India
  5. Outside CST Station
  6. Cama Hospital
  7. JW Mariott Hotel (Juhu)
  8. Vidhan Bhavan.

Nigerian men were allegedly involved in some of the firings. The blasts were RDX blasts, two of them used Taxis. Further reports are awaited. (India TV)

Sequential Updates As The Drama Unfolded:

(The following were real-time updates and may or may not be confirmed reports. Sources mentioned wherever available)

  • Two terrorists seem to be hiding inside the Oberoi hotel and are still firing. (CNN – IBN)
  • Four more are hiding in the TAJ and have allegedly hurled hand grenades. (CNN – IBN)
  • Terrorists have waved white flags and surrendered at CST Station. (2340 hrs)
  • Two terrorists apparently hiding near the Commissioner’s office.
  • Firing has stopped at Oberoi Hotel.  Terrorists appear to be on the 4th, 5th and 7th floors (2345 hrs)
  • Ten reported dead at CST station (2345 hrs) (India TV)
  • Sixteen reported dead at Taj Hotel (2350 hrs)
  • Three reported dead at Dockyard Road (2351 hrs)
  • BP Petrol Pump at Colaba has been attacked by a low intensity blast (2352 hrs) (CNN-IBN)
  • Firing reported at JJ School of Arts (27/11/2008 0000hrs) (Zee News)
  • Five reported dead at Vile Parle (0006 hrs)
  • Gun battle outside Metro Cinema (0015 hrs) (CNN-IBN)
  • Dadar Railway Station evacuated (0020 hrs) (CNN-IBN)
  • Rumors of Blasts at Mazgaon and BPT colony (0043 hrs) (CNN-IBN)
  • Terrorists steal a Police Gypsy. Firing reported near Vidhan Bhavan.  (0046 hrs) (Aaj Tak)
  • Terrorists still at large in various parts of South Mumbai.
  • Firing reported at Girgaum Chowpatty. (0048 hrs) (Star News)
  • Two terrorists shot dead at Girgaum Chowpatty (0056 hrs) (CNN-IBN)
  • Blast at TAJ Hotel. (0056 hrs) (CNN-IBN)
  • Firing at JW Mariott Juhu. CRPF Commandos and Police engaged in encounters in various locations. (0101 hrs) (CNBC-TV 18)
  • Three and two Terrorists respectively, holed up in Room Number 630 and 631 of the TAJ Hotel. (0104 hrs) (Aaj Tak)
  • 60 casualties reported in all so far.
  • 40 taken hostage at Hotel Trident. (NDTV).
  • Terrorists set fire to sixth storey at TAJ hotel. Seven Police casualties reported. (0125 hrs) (Aaj Tak).
  • ATS Chief Hemant Karkare wounded by a gun shot at the TAJ hotel siege. (0128 hrs) (Aaj Tak)
  • Ramada Hotel, Juhu Attacked (0135 hrs) (CNN-IBN)
  • ATS Chief Hemant Karkare succumbs to his injuries. (0142 hrs) (CNN-IBN)