Mumbai Terrorist Attack
- 0 years old
- Born Nov 25, 2008
- Died Nov 25, 2008
- Mumbai, India
Mumbai police control room said at least 75 people had died and 240 injured, according to preliminary reports.
Around midnight, more than two hours into the serial attacks, television images from near the Metro Cinema showed journalists and spectators ducking for cover as gunshots rang out. A fire raged inside the posh Oberoi Hotel, according to police. Television footage showed the charred shell of a car in front of Victoria Terminus railway station. A nearby gas station was blown up. The landmark Leopold’s Café, a favorite tourist haunt, was attacked.
Around 1 a.m., two guests trapped inside the Taj hotel, next to the iconic Gateway of India, said by telephone they heard a fresh explosion and gunfire in the old wing of the hotel.
Mumbai police said several senior officers were killed in the gun battles Wednesday night, including the head of the Anti-Terrorism Squad. The Indian home minister, Shivraj Patil, said shortly after 1:30 a.m. that two suspected attackers had been killed.
India has been ripped by a succession of terror attacks over the last several months. Many of them were initially blamed on Islamist militants, although in recent weeks, police have pointed to a Hindu terror network as well, making several arrests. Even by the standards of terrorism in India, these attacks were particularly brazen. Instead of anonymously planted bombs, as in previous attacks, the assailants in this case were spectacularly well-armed and confrontational.
The state’s highest ranking police official, A.N. Roy, said the attackers opened fire and disappeared.
The Maharashtra State chief minister, Vilasrao Deshmukh, told the private CNN-IBN station that the military had been called in to assist the local police. He said there had been five to seven targets in the attacks, concentrated in the southern tip of the city, known as Colaba and Nariman Point.
A 31-year-old man who was inside the Taj attending a friend’s wedding reception, said he was getting a drink around 9:45 p.m. when he heard what he said sounded like firecrackers — “loud bursts” interspersed with what sounded like machine gun fire.
A window of the banquet hall shattered, guests scattered under tables, and they were quickly escorted to another room in the hotel, he said. No one was allowed to leave. Just before 1 a.m., another loud explosion rang out and then another about a half hour later, said the man inside the Taj.
His friend, the groom, was two floors above him, in the old wing of the hotel, trapped in a room with his wife. One of the explosions, he said by telephone, took the door off its hinges. He blocked it with a table. Then came another, and gunfire throughout the evening.
Local television stations reported that a British national, who escaped the Oberoi Hotel, said he saw about 15 gunmen, first demanding that American and British nationals turn over their passports and then refusing to let them out. There was no official confirmation. Indian Army soldiers arrived at the Oberoi shortly after 2 a.m.
Mumbai, or Bombay as it is also known, has suffered several spectacular terror attacks in recent years. In 1993, a suspected Muslim organized crime network bombed the stock exchange, trains, hotels and gas stations, apparently in retaliation for Muslim deaths in religious clashes the year before; the bombings killed more than 250 and injured more than 1,000. In 2003, 52 people were killed in another set of bombings blamed on Muslim militants. In July 2007, a series of bombs planted inside commuter trains killed 187 people.
In Washington, the State Department immediately condemned the attacks but said there were no immediate reports of American casualties.
Reuters reported that a European official was among the wounded.“My hotel is surrounded by police and there are gunmen inside,” a European lawmaker, Ignasi Guardans, told Spanish radio from the Taj Hotel, according to Reuters. “We are in contact with some deputies inside the hotel, with one in a room and another hidden in the kitchen. There’s another official hurt and in hospital.”