Tourist Centers Targeted in Mumbai Terror Attacks
Terrorists attacked two prominent hotels and other tourist and business areas in Mumbai Wednesday, killing at least 125, including six foreigners, in what is being called one of the most brazen acts of terrorism in India’s recent history.
The coordinated machine-gun and grenade attacks, which began late Wednesday night and continued through Thursday night, was carried out by teams of heavily armed gunmen who stormed the Taj Mahal and Oberoi hotels, and shot up the Café Leopold and the Chhatrapati Shivaji railway station.
All of the sites hit are heavily frequented by foreign tourists, at least seven of whom were reportedly being held hostage at the two hotels.
One witness heard a terrorist shouting, “Who has U.S. or U.K. passports?” inside the Taj hotel.
Several law enforcement officials were killed during the attack, including Mumbai’s commissioner of police and the head of the city’s anti-terror squad. Authorities said that police managed to kill four of the terrorists and another nine had been detained.
The group responsible for the attack has not been officially verified yet, but the Press Trust of India said that an unfamiliar group calling itself the Deccan Mujahideen had claimed credit in emails to various media outlets.
The British Foreign Office said it was advising all British citizens in Mumbai to stay indoors. U.S. State Department officials were not able to confirm if any American citizens were among the dead or detained, but they harshly condemned the attacks.
Bombings in India have killed thousands over the last 15 years, the most notable being a series of train bombings that killed 187 people in July 2007. Most are believed to have been carried out by Muslim extremists intent on destabilizing the Hindu-majority country, but Hindu militant groups have been suspected in some of the more recent attacks.
The attacks may ultimately hurt India’s booming tourism industry, which saw a 10 percent rise in overseas visitors in the first nine months of 2008 and generated $8.8 billion in revenue for the country.
By Karen Elowitt for PeterGreenberg.com.
Don’t miss Peter’s take on the situation: Why Hotels Are Easy Terror Targets.