After yesterday’s coordinated series of terrorist attacks in Mumbai, Indian soldiers are now going through the targeted buildings–most of them luxury hotels–to free the hostages trapped inside.
More from the Huffington Post:
Black-clad Indian commandoes raided two luxury hotels to try to free hostages Thursday, and explosions and gunshots shook India’s financial capital a day after suspected Muslim militants killed 104 people.
Rescue efforts continued throughout the day amid sporadic gunfire, with some hostages escaping and others rescued by police. Several bodies were carried out of the five-star Taj Mahal Palace and Tower hotel, one of 10 sites seized by gunmen on Wednesday night.
More than 300 were also wounded in the highly coordinated attacks by bands of gunmen armed with assault rifles, hand grenades and explosives.
Flames burst from the hotel’s top floors and dome shortly after the attack began Wednesday night, and erupted again after commandoes raided the building Thursday.
After dusk Thursday, the soldiers ushered several dozen captives out of the Oberoi hotel, another Mumbai landmark.
The attackers, dressed in black shirts and jeans, had stormed into the hotel at about 9:45 p.m. Wednesday and opened fire indiscriminately.
“I was in the main lobby and there was all of a sudden a lot of firing outside,” said Sajjad Karim, part of a delegation of European lawmakers visiting Mumbai before a European Union-India summit.
Suddenly “another gunmen appeared in front of us, carrying machine gun-type weapons. And he just started firing at us … I just turned and ran in the opposite direction,” he told The Associated Press over his mobile phone.
The shooting was followed by a series of explosions that set fire to parts of the century-old edifice on Mumbai’s waterfront. Screams were heard and black smoke and flames billowed, continuing to burn until dawn.
The motive for the onslaught was not immediately clear, but Mumbai has frequently been targeted in terrorist attacks blamed on Islamic extremists, including a series of bombings in July 2006 that killed 187 people.
An Indian media report said a previously unknown group calling itself the Deccan Mujahideen claimed responsibility for the attacks in e-mails to several media outlets. There was no way to verify that claim.
Magnus Ranstorp, a terrorism specialist with the Swedish National Defense College, said there are “very strong suspicions” that the coordinated Mumbai attacks have a link to al-Qaida.
He said the fact that Britons and Americans were singled out is one indicator, along with the coordinated style of the attacks.