DCSIMG

Mumbai attacks: He looked like any student … seconds later he became the young face of terrorism

HIS face set with evil intent and dedicated to a murderous mission, one of the terrorists behind the atrocity in India is dressed like an average teenager. Wearing a T-shirt and carrying a backpack, he resembles a typical student, aside from the fact he comes cradling an AK-47 assault rifle, while his bag contains not books but round after round of bullets.

Last night, the Mumbai death toll reached 119 – including a British citizen – with more than 300 others wounded, after India's most affluent city came under co-ordinated attack by bands of gunmen.

Black and yellow rubber dinghies found by the shore had apparently been used to take the gunmen to the city. Once on land, the groups of men, armed with assault rifles, hand grenades and explosives, attacked ten different targets, including two five-star luxury hotels, a popular restaurant, a packed train station and a Jewish centre.

Eight militants were said to have been killed.

The assault is believed to have started at about 9:30pm local time on Wednesday. Leaping from their inflatable boats, the terrorists split up, heading for targets in the heart of southern Mumbai's tourist area. One group commandeered a vehicle and sprayed passers-by with bullets, before going on to fire indiscriminately in a train station, as well as at hospitals.

Shooting took place shortly afterwards at the Leopold Caf, which is popular with foreign tourists. Diane Murphy, 58, and her husband, Michael, 59, retired teachers from Northumberland, were settling down to dinner on the second day of their holiday when the gunmen burst in. Mrs Murphy was shot in the foot, while her husband was hit in the stomach.

Mrs Murphy, who is still in hospital, said: "All of a sudden, there was automatic gunfire. The whole place fell apart. It was tremendously loud. My husband and I were hit, as were lots of people. Everybody was down on the ground. The gunfire stopped for a few seconds then started again. We had to wait – it seemed like an age – for police to arrive."

Meanwhile, other attackers arrived at the Taj Mahal Palace hotel, the city's most illustrious, which had about 2,000 guests, demanding to know which were British or American.

Cheryl Robinson, a British tourist, said: "We were at dinner when we heard shots fired. There was gunfire and explosions. We stayed on the floor. Many were lying under tables, under furniture, and the hotel staff told us to be quiet. They locked the doors and warned us to sit tight."

Amid the chaos, a water pipe burst, drenching them. "We lay down in the water. We could hear the sound of people running outside. It was terrifying," said Ms Robinson, who was released from the hotel after about seven hours.

Across town, the lift at the Oberoi Trident hotel was descending, but Alan Jones and the other occupants were unaware that their destination was a hell of bullets and blood.

As the door opened on to the lobby, Mr Jones heard bangs. Two Japanese men got out first but quickly turned round again as they saw armed men spraying the lobby with bullets. "As they got back in, a bullet hit one of the Japanese men in the back of the leg," said Mr Jones, 42, a Welsh businessman. "Flesh and blood splattered everywhere. I looked up to see one of the gunmen was approaching. I tried to close the door, but the injured guy's leg was preventing it from closing. It was absolutely terrifying."

As the gunmen bore down on them, Mr Jones frantically pulled the man's leg back into the lift. "I only just kept it together enough to get the door shut."

Yesterday afternoon, Indian commandos began moving room by room through the two hotels in a bid to free remaining hostages. Helicopters buzzed overhead as the troops, their faces blackened, entered the Trident Oberoi, where 20 to 30 people were thought to have been taken hostage and more than 100 others were trapped in their rooms. Huge flames billowed from an upper floor.

Earlier, explosions rattled the Taj Mahal hotel, a 105-year-old landmark on the waterfront, as troops flushed out the last of the militants there. Fire and smoke plumed from a window.

"The commandos are in control," Dipak Dutta told a local news channel after being rescued. As the troops escorted him through the corridors, they told him not to look down at any of the bodies. He added: "A lot of chef trainees were massacred in the kitchen."

Those who survived told harrowing tales of close encounters with the terrorists. Australian actress Brooke Satchwell, who starred in TV soap Neighbours, said she narrowly escaped the gunmen by hiding in a bathroom cupboard. "There were people getting shot in the corridor. There was someone dead outside the bathroom. The next thing I knew, I was running down the stairs and there were a couple of dead bodies across the stairs. It was chaos," she said.

While Mumbai has suffered a spate of terrorist atrocities in recent years, including a series of bombings in 2006 that killed 187, this was the first time British, American and Jewish people had been deliberately targeted.

Alex Chamberlain, a Briton who had been dining at the Oberoi, said gunman ushered 30 to 40 people from the restaurant into a stairway and, speaking in Hindi or Urdu, ordered everyone to put their hands up.

He said: "The gunmen stopped and asked, 'Where are you from? Any British or American? Show your ID'. My friend said, 'Tell them you're Italian'. And there I was with my hands up, basically thinking I was in a lot of trouble". He said he managed to slip away as the group were forced to walk upstairs.

An e-mail sent yesterday by a previously unknown group, Mujahideen Hyderabad Deccan, warned of more such attacks. "We today warn the Indian government to stop the repeated injustice on Muslims and it should return the states snatched from Muslims. But we know that Indian government would not take this warning seriously," it read.

"That is why we have decided that warning will not just remain a warning, we would ensure that it is proved true, an example of which you have seen in Mumbai. Now we will keep on reacting till the time we don't take revenge of every atrocity on us, every insult to us."

Elite commandos battle Mumbai militants as India and Pakistan square up

BRIAN FERGUSON

TENSIONS between India and Pakistan were mounting last night as elite commandos continued to battle terrorists in Mumbai.

As the death toll reached 119, with at least 315 wounded, a war of words flared between the two countries.

Reports emerged last night that three militants involved in Wednesday's attacks had confessed to membership of the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba group, which had earlier denied any involvement.

The authorities last night admitted the situation in Mumbai was still not under control, more than 24 hours after the attacks began.

Dozens of people were still thought to be being held hostage at two luxury hotels and a nearby Jewish centre. Up to 12 gunmen were believed to be holed up in the three sites last night.

Throughout yesterday, commandos brought hostages, trapped guests and corpses out of the five-star Oberoi and Taj Mahal hotels, from which frequent gunfire and explosions could be heard.

It is thought more than 50 people are still being held hostage in the Oberoi, with a handful more still awaiting rescue in the Taj Mahal, where three gunmen were killed in a bid to bring an end to the siege.

Vilasrao Deshmukh, the chief minister of Maharashtra state, said: "The situation is still not under control, and we are trying to flush out any more terrorists hiding inside the two hotels."

Officers from Scotland Yard flew to Mumbai last night to help the authorities restore order.

Manmohan Singh, the Indian prime minister, yesterday triggered anger in Pakistan by declaring it was "evident" that the group which carried out the attacks "was based outside the country" and warned its neighbours "the use of their territory for launching attacks on us will not be tolerated".

The Indian navy had earlier stoked fears of Pakistan's involvement in the attacks by revealing that officers had boarded a cargo vessel which had recently arrived in Mumbai from Karachi.

Pictures were shown of black and yellow rubber dinghies found by the shore. However, the navy later admitted nothing suspicious had been found on the vessel and it had been released.

Mr Singh did not name Pakistan in his address to the Indian nation, but his remarks drew a swift response from Pakistan's defence minister, Ahmed Mukhtar, who said: "Nobody should blame anyone without any evidence and verification.

"We have nothing to do with these attacks. We condemn these attacks. We should not be blamed like in the past. This will destroy all the goodwill we created together after years of bitterness.

"I will say in very categoric terms that Pakistan is not involved in these gory incidents."

Eyewitnesses said the attackers had specifically targeted Britons and Americans inside the hotels, where dozens of guests were still reported to be hiding last night until given the all-clear by the authorities.

David Miliband, the Foreign Secretary, described the atrocities as "an attack on all of us".

He said the attacks bore some of the marks of al-Qaeda, but stressed it was too early to know if groups linked to the Islamist terrorist network were involved.

"It is very premature to start talking about links to al-Qaeda. The fact that these were co-ordinated attacks, that they were attacks on travel centres as well as on hotels, bears some hallmarks of al-Qaeda, but, equally, that doesn't mean this was an al-Qaeda attack."

At least six foreigners, including a Briton, an Australian, an Italian and a Japanese national, were killed. The Briton was named as Andreas Liveras, 73, the founder of a yacht business, from Nottinghamshire.

Ian Tyler, the chief executive of the construction giant Balfour Beatty, was also caught up in the terror at the Oberoi hotel.

The British High Commission in Delhi has set up a command centre in Mumbai's British Council library, where victims were able to prepare to fly home.

Sir Richard Stagg, the British High Commissioner in India, said he had seen three or four wounded Britons in hospital, but said the total "must be significantly more". UK officials flew to Mumbai yesterday to help Britons caught in the attacks.

The England cricket team postponed its final one-day matches against India amid fears for players' safety. They will fly back to Britain tomorrow, but intend to return to India in time to start a Test on 11 December.

• Shami Chakrabarti, director of the Liberty campaign group, last night said the "war on terror" was handing ammunition to "heinous criminals".

MUMBAI ATTACKS: MORE COVERAGE

• Was computer expert aged 36 the mastermind?

• I'm safe – wealthy Briton's call home hours before he was shot dead

• India: A prime target for the purveyors of terror

• Kashmir a source of anger for militant Muslims

• Scots may be caught in violence

• Terrorism jeopardises cricket's future

 
 
 

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