Thursday, November 27, 2008

Mumbai terror attacks

UPDATED & BUMPED: Hostage standoffs continue:
Fresh gunfire and explosions were heard late Thursday in Mumbai as police battled terrorists at three sites almost 24 hours after the first wave of violence hit the city.
Fresh explosions have been heard at the Taj Mahal hotel, where police are trying to free hostages.
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh suggested the group behind the terrorist attacks, which killed 125 people, was based outside the country.
CNN reporters said regular gun fire and blasts could be heard Thursday at the Oberoi and Taj Mahal hotels and a Jewish center in the city. . . .
"It is evident that the group which carried out these attacks, based outside the country, had come with single-minded determination to create havoc in the financial capital of the country," [Singh] said. . . .
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 violence.
Gunmen also remained holed up in a building called Chabad House, where several Jewish families live. Rabbi Gabriel Holtzberg, the city's envoy for the community, was being held inside with his wife, a member of the Hasidic Jewish movement said. The couple's 18-month-old baby was released unharmed.
Possibility of an al-Qaeda link is unclear:
Christine Fair, senior political scientist and a South Asia expert at the RAND Corporation, was careful to say that the identity of the terrorists could not yet be known. But she insisted the style of the attacks and the targets in Mumbai suggested the militants were likely to be Indian Muslims and not linked to Al Qaeda or Lashkar-e-Taiba, another violent South Asian terrorist group.
“There’s absolutely nothing Al Qaeda-like about it,” she said of the attack. “Did you see any suicide bombers? And there are no fingerprints of Lashkar. They don’t do hostage-taking and they don’t do grenades.” By contrast, [security expert Sajjan] Gohel in London said “the fingerprints point to an Islamic Al Qaeda-affiliated terrorist group."
Allahpundit has a fresh thread today.

PREVIOUSLY: India is hit with the kind of large-scale coordinated attacks that are an al-Qaeda trademark:
At least 101 people have been killed in attacks by gunmen in Mumbai , police said on Thursday. At least six foreigners have been killed and the death figure has gone up to 101 now," Ramesh Tayde, a senior police officer told from Mumbai's control room.
In one of the most violent terror attacks on Indian soil, Mumbai came under an unprecedented night attack as terrorists used heavy machine guns, including AK-47s, and grenades to strike at the city's most high-profile targets -- the hyper-busy CST (formerly VT) rail terminus; the landmark Taj Hotel at the Gateway and the luxury Oberoi Trident at Nariman Point; the domestic airport at Santa Cruz; the Cama and GT hospitals near CST; the Metro Adlabs multiplex and Mazgaon Dockyard -- killing at least 80 and sending more than 900 to hospital, according to latest reports.
The attacks have taken a tragic toll on the city's top police brass: The high-profile chief of the anti-terror squad Hemant Karkare was killed; Mumbai's additional commissioner of police (east) Ashok Kamte was gunned down outside the Metro; and celebrated encounter specialist Vijay Salaskar was also killed.
The Indian Mujahideen group that has taken credit for the attack has clear ties to Pakistan, the Weekly Standard reports:
Indian intelligence believes the Indian Mujahideen is a front group created by Lashkar-e-Taiba and the Harkat ul Jihad al Islami to confuse investigators and cover the tracks of the Students' Islamic Movement of India, or SIMI, a radical Islamist movement. The groups receive support from Pakistan's Inter-Service Intelligence and are al Qaeda affiliates.
Hot Air has an extensive roundup, including this CNN video:

The Counter-Terrorism Blog names the group Lashkar-e-Toiba as a likely sponsor of this attack. The terrorists were seeking American and British hostages at the luxury hotels in Mumbai:
Two terrorists carrying guns tonight took 15 people, half of them foreigners, hostage on the roof of the luxury Taj Hotel, one of the hostages who managed to escape said.
...Replying to a question, Patel said the terrorists wanted to know if any one of the hostages was carrying American and British passports.
They clearly wanted foreigners, he added.
Via Ace of Spades, where the flaming skull alert is in effect.

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