Wednesday,
20 September 2017
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Mumbai toll climbs as hotel standoffs continue

 A standoff continued...

Indian police are still battling to release hostages the morning after gunmen carried out brazen attacks across southern Mumbai, killing more than 100 people and taking hostages in multiple locations, according to CNN.

 A standoff continued at the Oberoi Hotel, where about 100 members of a specialized unit of the Indian police undertook an operation to rescue four to five foreigners hostages on the 19th floor.

About four to six people were believed to be holed up in the Taj, said A.N. Roy, the Maharashtra police chief.

The death toll from the series of coordinated attacks was at 101 by midday Thursday authorities said. The number of people wounded in the attacks has also been raised to 314, said Pradeep Indulkar, deputy secretary for Maharashtra, the state where Mumbai is located.

At least six foreigners were killed in the series of attacks across southern Mumbai, according to a state official.

 

 A British citizen and another from Australia were among the dead, said Pradeep Indulkar, deputy secretary for Maharashtra state, where Mumbai is located. A Japanese businessman was also killed, the country`s foreign ministry confirmed.

The nationalities of the other foreigners killed were not yet available.

In addition, at least nine gunmen were killed in gunfire exchange with police. Seven British citizens were wounded in the attacks, as were two Australians, officials from the two countries said.

Also among the victims was Hemant Karkare, the chief of the Mumbai police`s anti-terror squad was among those killed, and as many as 11 police officers.

An American woman who was still inside the Taj with her husband told CNN by phone Thursday that television feeds into the room have stopped and she did not know what was going on.

 "We have water and we`re hunkered down and patient and ready to wait it out," she said. "We`re OK. Last night was a different story, but today we`re OK."

Authorities found 8 kilograms (17 pounds) of RDX, one of the most powerful kinds of military explosives, at a restaurant near the Taj, indicating that the attackers may have been planning more attacks.

Gunmen also remained holed up in a building called Nariman House, where several Jewish families live. Police said the men fired indiscriminately from the building throughout the night and into Thursday morning. Stray bullets killed a couple in their home and a 16-year-old boy who stepped outside, police said.

CNN`s sister station CNN-IBN reported that three people, who appeared to be foreigners, escaped from the building. Police have the building surrounded and exchanged gunfire in which one of the gunmen reportedly was killed, CNN-IBN said.

A standoff at a fourth location -- the Cama Hospital for women and infants -- also appeared to have been resolved by Thursday morning, CNN-IBN reported. It was not immediately known whether gunmen at the hospital fled or were killed.

Authorities asked residents in Mumbai to stay inside, uncertain whether other attacks were planned in the city.

 Mumbai remained locked down with police checking cars randomly. The stock market in the city -- the financial capital of India -- was closed, as were schools and colleges.

Government officials said the attacks caught them completely unaware, with no intelligence chatter indicating that such a coordinated assault was in the works.

Police say the attackers came by boats to the waterfront near the Gateway of India monument.

Of the nine suspects police arrested in connection with the attacks, seven are fishermen. Police also found a boat loaded with explosives near the Taj, also located on the waterfront.

 "Those men were wearing jackets and they carried big, big, bags," one fisherman told CNN-IBN.

Said another: "We asked, `Where are you coming from?` They said, `Go do your work.`"

The gunmen then hijacked cars -- including a police van -- and broke into at least three groups to carry out the attacks, police said.

One group headed toward the Cafe Leopold, a popular hangout for Western tourists, firing indiscriminately at passersby on the street. They then opened fire and lobbed grenades at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus railway station, a Victorian building.

As police rushed to the scene of the attacks, gunmen -- possibly part of the first group -- attacked the Cama Hospital.

Two other groups attacked the two luxury hotels frequented by Westerners.

Bhushan Gagrani, a spokesman for Maharashtra, said no one had claimed responsibility for the attacks.

But several Indian news outlets reported receiving e-mails from a group calling itself the Deccan Mujahideen that claimed responsibility for the attacks. CNN was not able to verify the reports.

 A man told local television that he was in the Oberoi around 10 p.m. when gunmen entered the lobby and began rounding up guests, asking for anyone with a U.S. or British passport and taking about 15 of them hostage.

Reaction from the United Nations, United States and United Kingdom was swift as world leaders joined in condemning the attacks.

 India has suffered a number of attacks in recent years, including a string of bombs that ripped through packed Mumbai commuter trains and platforms during rush hour in July 2006. About 209 people were killed in that attack.

Last July, a series of synchronized bomb blasts in the western Indian city of Ahmedabad left 49 dead and more than 100 wounded, police said.

 

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