Indian commando operations are ongoing at two luxury hotels and a Jewish center in Mumbai, as security forces try to rescue an unknown number of hostages and flush out attackers who have terrorized the city since Wednesday.
Many people were freed today, Thursday from the Taj Mahal Palace and the Oberoi-Trident hotels as commandos storm floor-by-floor. Gunfire and explosions have been heard at the hotels. A fire broke out at the Oberoi, and there is a new blaze at the Taj, which is still smoldering from a previous fire.
Heavily armed men attacked at least 10 sites throughout Mumbai late Wednesday, killing more than 100 people and wounding about 300.
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today, Thursday said the perpetrators of the highly coordinated attacks on India's financial capital were likely based outside the country. Without specifying another nation, he said he will tell "neighbors" that the use of their territory for launching terrorist attacks will not be tolerated.In response, Pakistan's foreign minister, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, told reporters to avoid jumping to conclusions.
The assailants, armed with machine guns and grenades, attacked places popular with foreigners and business people, including hotels and train stations.India's Navy has increased surveillance off the western coast. Authorities say they believe the attackers reached Mumbai by boat.Witnesses said gunmen were looking for U.S. and British citizens, while other attackers fired indiscriminately.Local media report a previously unknown group, called the Deccan Mujahideen, has claimed responsibility. It is not clear if the claim is credible.
The term Mujahideen is associated with Islamist extremists. Deccan may be a reference to the Deccan Plateau -- an area of southern India. Islamic militants have been blamed for past bombing attacks.The commanding officer of Maharashtra state, Army Major General R.K. Hooda, said the military's immediate goal is two-fold -- to rescue people and to capture or kill the attackers.
Among those reported killed in the attacks were Mumbai's anti-terror chief, Hemant Karkare and at least 11 policeman. Foreign nationals were also killed.Police say at least four gunmen have been killed and nine arrested, but it is not clear where these encounters occurred.