Gunmen in separate groups stormed luxury hotels, a popular restaurant, hospitals and a crowded train station in coordinated attacks across India’s financial capital, Mumbai, killing at least 100 people and wounding about 120 people. The group likewise took Westerners hostage. A group of suspected Muslim militants claimed responsibility for the attacks.
Fire and explosions struck the landmark Taj Mahal hotel shortly after midnight. Firefighters tried desperately to extinguish the fire while saving people from windows and balconies with their ladder. The fire was reduced and managed by dawn. At the same time, a gunman ushered 30 to 40 people dining at the upscale Oberoi Hotel in a stairway and ordered them to put up their hands while another group sprayed bullets into the crowded terminal of the Chhatrapati Shivaji rail station. Other gunmen attacked Leopold’s restaurant, a diner popular with foreigners, and the police headquarters in Southern Mumbai. Gunmen also attacked the Cama, Albless Hospital, and G.T. hospitals.
Apparently, the attackers targeted Britons and Americans, leaving other nationalities alone when questioned about their origins. Some even stormed in the establishments asking who had US or UK passports. The group’s motive is still uncertain though officials suspect that these were Islamic extremists who have frequently targeted Mumbai in their terrorist attacks. Police reported that four suspects had been killed in two incidents when they attempted to flee in their cars while two more gunmen were killed at the Taj Mahal. Meanwhile, nine suspects had been arrested for the incidents.
Authorities estimate that 7 to 15 foreigners were hostages at the Taj Mahal Hotel. But it was unknown where the hostages were kept as flames raged at the older wing of the hotel. The terrorists have demanded that all Mujahideens held in India be freed in exchange for the safe return of hostages. There were still no reports of American casualties or hostages but hospitals claim that a Japanese man had been killed while 9 Europeans were brought in, 3 in critical condition from gunshot wounds.
India has been plagued by bombings the past three years blamed on Muslim militants who intend to destabilize the Hindu country.