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Randeep Ramesh and Daniel Pepper in Mumbai, Angela Balakrishnan and
agencies, Thursday November 27 2008 10.38 GMT
Article history

Terror attacks in Mumbai
Link to this video

A gunman inside one of the Mumbai hotels holding dozens of hostages has
demanded the release of "mujahideens" and Islamic militants held in Indian

The man, who identified himself as Sahadullah, told Indian TV by phone that
he was one of seven attackers inside the Oberoi hotel. "Release all the
mujahideens, and Muslims living in India should not be troubled."

The man said he belonged to an Indian Islamist group seeking an end to the
persecution of Indian Muslims.

"We want all mujahideens held in India released and only after that we will
release the people," he said.

"Muslims in India should not be persecuted. We love this as our country but
when our mothers and sisters were being killed, where was everybody?" he
told the channel.

The hotel is surrounded by army commandos.

Randeep Ramesh reports from Mumbai
Link to this audio

Between 50 and 200 people are still being kept hostage in Mumbai after a
coordinated series of attacks on luxury hotels, popular restaurants, a rail
terminus and an ultra-orthodox Jewish centre.

British and Americans were sought out by the hostage-takers. Israelis were
also among those held, a television channel reported. Police said a rabbi
was being held in a Mumbai apartment.

Witnesses said the attackers were young south Asian men in their early 20s,
most likely Indians, and spoke Hindi or Urdu.

The Maharashtra state police chief, AN Roy, said earlier that the hostage
situation had ended at the Taj Mahal hotel but that there were still
apparently hostages in the Oberoi hotel.

Indian commandos have been sending out bodies and hostages from the Taj
hotel. "No negotiations or talks have started with the terrorists," the
Maharashtra state deputy chief minister, RR Patil, told reporters outside.

Patil said television signals to both hotels had been switched off to
prevent the hostage-takers getting wind of any operations to storm the

The death toll in the attack has risen to 101 with more than 300 people
injured. Police and gunmen exchanged heavy gunfire early this morning, and
some people managed to flee the Taj hotel, which had its roof destroyed by
fire through the night.

At the nearby Oberoi hotel, soldiers could be seen on the roof of
neighbouring buildings. A banner hanging out of one window read "Save us".

"We did not know anything, we just heard gunshots. It was a long night for
us," said Nasim Desai, a South African visiting her family in India.

Indian television reported that a Singaporean woman called her embassy and
asked Indian security forces not to attack the Oberoi or the terrorists
would kill her.

Officials at a Bombay hospital, speaking on condition of anonymity, said a
Japanese man had died there and nine Europeans had been admitted, three of
them in a critical condition with gunshot wounds. All had come from the Taj
hotel, the officials said.

Terrorist gunmen seized the Mumbai headquarters of the ultra-orthodox Jewish
outreach group Chabad Lubavitch. Indian commandos surrounded the building
this morning and witnesses said gunfire could be heard from inside.

A spokesman for the Lubavitch movement in New York, Rabbi Zalman Shmotkin,
said attackers "stormed the Chabad house" in Mumbai.

"It seems that the terrorists commandeered a police vehicle which allowed
them easy access to the area of the Chabad house and threw a grenade at a
gas pump nearby," he said.

A witness said three people were killed in the attack, but the account could
not be confirmed.

The home secretary for Maharashtra state, Bipin Shrimali, said four
suspects had been killed at two battle scenes in Mumbai when they tried to
flee in cars, while four more gunmen were reported killed at the Taj Mahal
hotel. Officials said nine more had been arrested, giving no further

An Indian media report said a previously unknown group calling itself the
Deccan Mujahideen had claimed responsibility for the attacks in emails to
several media outlets. There was no way to verify that claim.

Dr George Kassimeris, an expert in conflict and terrorism at the University
of Wolverhampton, said the terrorists behind the coordinated attacks had
followed a "blueprint" created by al-Qaida.

Professor Richard Bonney, the author of Jihad: From Qu'ran To Bin Laden,
said: "This attack looks more dangerous and better planned, though not
directed against possible government targets but economic ones and of course
the western allies."

Mumbai was today a ghost town, with the normally chaotic and crowded streets
eerily still.

The only movement was by police, army and commando units making their way
through labyrinthine back alleys. The state government ordered schools and
colleges and the Bombay stock exchange to close for the day.

"We blame the intelligence - the government spends so much money and nothing
happens. Then these people come and do whatever they want," said one local
resident, Richard Madhavan, 34.

Many Mumbai residents have experienced violence before, either bombings or
the occasional gunfight between mobsters and police.

There have been regular attacks blamed on Islamist militants, including a
series of bombings in July 2006 that killed 187 people.

"Bombay's streets are used to violence," said Dinesh Bhandari, 41.
"Tomorrow we'll be back to work."

• The Foreign Office has advised people concerned about British friends and
relatives in India to call +44 (0)20-7008 0000.

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