Sat, November 29, 2008
World > Asia-Pacific > India terror attacks

59-hour Mumbai terror siege comes to end

2008-11-29 07:56:45 GMT2008-11-29 15:56:45 (Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

Photographers run past burning Taj Mahal Hotel during a gun battle in Mumbai November 29, 2008. [Agencies]

MUMBAI, Nov. 29 (Xinhua) -- India's longest terror nightmare that lasted for almost 59 hours ended Saturday as commandos from the National Security Guard (NSG), the Indian Army and the Indian Navy eliminated three militants who had taken over the iconic Taj Mahal hotel.

"Finally, we have been able to win the battle and do the job (assigned to us)," NSG head J.K. Dutt told reporters.

Plumes of thick, black smoke billowed out of the ground floor windows at the hotel's northern end after two retail outlets were torched Saturday to smoke out the militants.

Some 200 commandos from the NSG, the Indian Army, the Indian Navy and the Mumbai police launched the attack, Indo-Asian News Service (IANS) reported.

Saturday was the culmination of a four-day anti-militant operation that began Wednesday evening when several armed men, probably two dozen and armed with grenades and automatic rifles, sneaked into the city by boat.

Police later said that the militants divided themselves into several groups and quickly struck several places in south Mumbai, including the Taj Mahal hotel, the nearby Oberoi-Trident hotel and a Jewish center.

They shot at people indiscriminately and hurled grenades, killing over 150 people.

On Friday, the commandos first took control of the Oberoi hotel and then the Jewish center. Thousands living all around the building took to the streets, shouting slogans and hailing the security forces.

But the three gunmen at the Taj Mahal held on despite being outnumbered by well-trained commandos.

A total of 25 explosions, small and big, were heard in the hotel all through Friday, and gunfire rattled the hotel and fires frequently erupted from different rooms, IANS reported.

Scores of hostages, many of them westerners, Friday finally walked out of the two hotels and the Jewish center after two nights and days of trauma and a narrow brush with death. A few broke down while others were too stunned to react when the commandos found them, hiding in their rooms, IANS said.

The NSG lost two men, and 14 Mumbai police personnel were killed including the head of its Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) Hemant Karkare.

Fourteen militants were killed, while one has been captured, according to the IANS.

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