Friday, November 28, 2008

MUMBAI DAY 3: the situation is still unresolved in all the scenarios, with special forces storming in to root out the terrorists. As I did yesterday (see here), I'll be tracking the events overnight (U.S. time)...

3:02 am EST: Police launch attack on Jewish center, Nariman House (CNN)
A helicopter, making three passes in 40 minutes, dropped about two dozen soldiers onto the building's roof. The first drop happened about 7:10 a.m. local time Friday (8:40 p.m. ET Thursday), CNN sister station CNN-IBN reported. After the last drop, five or six heavy explosions and small-arms fire could be heard.
3:33 am EST: Hostages freed from the Oberoi hotel; some still in Taj Mahal (NYT)
News agencies reported late Friday morning that about 20 foreigners -- some carrying luggage -- had been freed from one of the hotels, the Oberoi. At the same time, an army general, N. Thamburaj, was quoted as saying two hostages were still being held in the other hotel that had come under siege, the Taj Mahal Hotel and Tower The general said he expected all anti-terrorist operations in Mumbai to be over by midafternoon.
3:51 am EST: False alarm at train station (CNN-IBN):
"The situation is normal. Someone heard some noises and started running which created panic. It was not firing. There was a commotion, but we have checked there has been no firing. Railway services are normal now," K Sharma, Commissioner, Railway Security, said.

He denied reports that three gunshots had reportedly been fired at the GT Hospital near the station.
4:03 am EST: A British magnate described the attack to the media minutes before being killed (Guardian)

4:16 am EST: Not 100% over at the Taj Mahal hotel (Sky News)
Two explosions and gunfire have been heard at the Taj Mahal Palace hotel where an anti-terrorist operation is in full swing.

The army says at least one gunman is still alive and is thought to be holding a number of hostages. [Video here]

Commandos involved in the operation to free hostages described the terrorists as "showing no remorse, firing at anyone who moved". [Video here]
4:26 am EST: Video --surfaced yesterday-- of terrorists in killing spree (Gateway Pundit)

4:46 am EST: Terrorist 'mothership' found (Times UK):
The investigation into the terror attacks that have killed at least 125 people in Bombay are focussing on a fishing vessel that was found off the city's coast with one dead body on board, security sources say.

It is thought that the vessel was used by the terrorists before they climbed aboard a smaller boat to land at Colaba, the popular tourist area that suffered the worst strikes and where gunmen are hostages still holed up in two luxury hotels.
4:51 am EST: India's Foreign Minister accuses Pakistan (AP):
"According to preliminary information, some elements in Pakistan are responsible for Mumbai terror attacks," External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee tells reporters in the western city of Jodhpur. "Proof cannot be disclosed at this time."
4:56 am EST: Spasiva! Terrorists let go 17 Russian hostages after checking passport (Hindu Business Line)

4:57 am EST: Oberoi cleared (Economic Times):
The head of India's commando unit said on Friday that his men had taken "full control" of the Oberoi Trident hotel after killing the last of two terrorists.

Over 140 hostages, many of them foreigners, were rescued from the hotel. Some of the guests were carrying luggage with Canadian flags on and were taken away in cars without speaking to reporters.
5:13 am EST: Fresh fighting at Taj Mahal (NDTV):
There have been two fresh, huge blasts at the Taj hotel and firing has resumed. NSG says three-four terrorists are in Taj Heritage wing with few hostages.

Army has said that the NSG is in contact with one terrorist in the old wing of Taj and that the operation in Taj is in final stages Army has also said that some guests may still be inside the Taj.
5:21 am EST: Reporting the commando operation at Nariman House with a Blackberry (The Lede)

5:37 am EST: India’s Suspicion of Pakistan Clouds U.S. Strategy in Region (NYT):
The terrorist attacks in Mumbai occurred as India and Pakistan, two big, hostile and nuclear-armed nations, were delicately moving toward improved relations with the encouragement of the United States and in particular the incoming Obama administration. . . . attacks as devastating as those that unfolded in Mumbai — whether ultimately traced to homegrown Indian militants or to others from abroad, or a combination — seem likely to sour relations, fuel distrust and hamper, at least for now, America’s ambitions for reconciliation in the region.
5:41 am EST: 24 more dead bodies retrieved from Trident-Oberoi hotel, one terrorist arrested (Newspost)

5:48 am EST: Pakistan president Zardari blames "non-state actors" (Reuters)

5:59 am EST: Hollywood actor Michael Rudder among the injured (Bollywood World News):
A representative of Synchronicity told the Canadian Press that Montreal-based actor Michael Rudder was shot when terrorists stormed one of the hotels in Mumbai.

The representative said Rudder underwent surgery in an intensive care unit after three gunshot wounds.

Rudder, who has acted alongside Johnny Depp and Eddie Murphy in many Hollywood movies and was nominated for a Genie award for best-supporting actor in 1989 for the film Buying Time, is said to be now recovering.
6:07 am EST: Death toll jumps to 143 (AP):
Indian commandos on Friday ended a siege at Mumbai's Trident-Oberoi hotel while explosions and gunfire continued intermittently at the Taj Mahal Hotel, according to reports.

Police said 24 more bodies have been found in the series of attacks that have ripped through Mumbai over the past two days, according to the Associated Press. The new figure brings the death toll in India's commercial and entertainment capital to at least 143.

Among the dead were reportedly as many as four Australians, a Japanese man, an Italian, a Briton and a German.
6:19 am EST: Operation inteinsifies at Nariman House (CNN-IBN live b'cast; no link yet)

6:29 am EST: Large blast heard at Taj Mahal (CNN USA live b'cast, no link yet)

6:41 am EST: Battle of the Taj escalating yet again (Sky News):
Heavy gunfire has intensified at the Taj Mahal Palace hotel where an anti-terrorist operation is said to be "in full swing".
6:48 am EST: British link? (Telegraph):
Two British-born Pakistanis were among eight gunmen seized by Indian commandos who stormed buildings to free hostages, Vilasrao Deshmukh, the chief minister of Mumbai, reportedly said.
7:14 am EST: Battle raging at the Taj Mahal hotel and at the Jewish center (CNN):
Standoffs continued at the Taj Mahal Hotel -- where one gunmen is still holed up -- and the Chabad House, where several Jewish people are reportedly being held hostage by two to three gunmen, police said.
8:08 am EST: Police says siege at Jewish center has ended (FNC):
Commandos emerged from building with their assault rifles raised as a crowd outside the building cheered. There was no word on the fate of the hostages believed to be inside.
8:33 am EST: Pakistan intel to collaborate in investigation (NYT):
In a significant development, Pakistan said on Friday it was prepared to send its intelligence chief, Ahmed Shuja Pasha, to India to share information in the investigation into the attacks.
8:52 am EST: Two Virginians confirmed dead (AP):
A spokeswoman with the Synchronicity Foundation said Friday Alan Scherr and his 13-year-old daughter, Naomi, were killed while they were in a cafe in Mumbai.
8:57 am EST: Last one standing at the Taj (CNN):
One gunman is still holed up at the Taj Mahal Hotel, shooting and throwing grenades at security forces, Commissioner of Mumbai Police Hasan Gafoor told CNN-IBN. "There is one terrorist who is still shooting, and throwing grenades at the security forces," he said. "Hopefully, also, we should be able to succeed in another short while."
9:01 am EST: Terrorists kill 5 hostages at the Jewish center (CNN-IBN):
""We had taken over the second floor of the house when grenade was launched from above. Three hostages were killed by terrorists before they moved upstairs. NSG commandos moved upstairs to kill two terrorists on the fourth floor. Terrorists killed two hostages in this floor," NSG Director General Jyoti Krishan Dutt said.
9:19 am EST: Is al-Qaeda behind the attacks? (Haaretz):
Experts say organized orchestration of Mumbai attacks could not have been carried out by local group.
9:33 am EST: Fresh explosion at Taj Hotel, encounter still on (CNN-IBN):
Fire has erupted in the first floor Banquet House of Taj Hotel after an explosion.

Earlier, an AFP correspondent and three other people have been injured in crossfire at the Taj Hotel.

Firing is on at the hotel as the commando operation to secure the hotel enters the final stage.
9:46 am EST: French couple among the Oberon dead (M&C):
According to the report, the two were among 24 bodies found in the hotel when commandos seized control of it from the attackers. The couple, who were not identified, had earlier been reported as missing.
9:50 am EST: An administrative note: Barcepundit is now at the top of Memeorandum. Thanks to all readers and everyone who linked; I wish it was in a happier occasion, though...

9:58 am EST: Pure horror -- Death toll climbs to 155 (India Info Online):
The number of dead in the audacious terrorist attacks in Mumbai since Wednesday night has gone up to 155, while the number of injured are more than 300, Maharashtra deputy chief minister and state home minister R.R. Patil said on Friday.
10:10 am EST: State Dept. confirms the death of 2 Americans. (FNC)

10:47 am EST: Counting the Hours in Room 2324 (NYT):
Survivors of the siege of the Oberoi Hotel, exhausted but safe on Friday afternoon, told how they barricaded themselves in a room and endured 36 hours of terror after attackers invaded the luxurious seaside hotel on Wednesday night.
10:58 am EST: Attributes Suggest Outside Help (WaPo):
Officials in India, Europe and the United States said likely culprits included Islamist networks based in Pakistan that have received support in the past from Pakistan's intelligence agencies.

Analysts said this week's attacks surpassed previous plots carried out by domestic groups in terms of complexity, the number of people involved and their success in achieving their primary goal: namely, to spread fear.
11:02 am EST: Big explosions, fire breaking out at Taj Mahal hotel (CNN live b'cast, no link yet)

11:10 am EST: Terrorists in Mumbai Did Dry Runs (Annie Jacobsen @ Aviation Nation)

11:26 am EST: Rabbi, wife among dead in Mumbai Jewish center (CNN website screen alert)

11:39 am EST: Welcome to the age of celebrity terrorism (Paul Cornish @ Chatham House):
Quite apart from the scores murdered and the hundreds injured, what the Mumbai terrorists really wanted was an exaggerated and preferably extreme reaction on the part of governments, the media and public opinion. In these terms, the attackers received as much attention as they could possibly have hoped for, and the Mumbai outrage can only be described as a very significant terrorist success. . . .

Welcome to the age of celebrity terrorism. The invitation to the world's D-list malcontents reads as follows: no matter how corrupt your moral sense, how contorted your view of the world, how vapid and inarticulate your ideas, how talentless you are and how exaggerated your grievance; an obsessive audience with nothing better to do will watch your every move and turn you into what you most want to be, just before your death.
11:58 am EST: Rabbi, wife confirmed dead (AP):
The Chabad-Lubavitch movement has confirmed that a New York rabbi and his wife are among the dead in the India terrorist attack.

A spokesman, Rabbi Zalman Schmotkin, says Rabbi Gavriel Noach Holtzberg and his wife, Rivka, have been killed in Mumbai. They ran the movement's local headquarters, which was one of 10 sites attacked.

The couple's toddler son, Moshe Holtzberg, was taken out of the center by an employee, and is now with his grandparents.
12:33 pm EST: Final assault at Taj? (NDTV)
Latest reports says that there is heavy firing and explosions in Wasabi restaurant in the Taj. One terrorist is left and he is firing at NSG.

The level of battle now seems to indicate a last assault at the Taj. There is still confusion over the total number of militants inside the hotel, but there seem to be no hostages or guests inside with them. It may, thus, be a matter of time before the NSG storms the hotel.

The Army said that the NSG was in contact with one terrorist in the old wing of Taj and that the operation in Taj was also in final stages.

There was also report of one injured militant inside the Taj hotel.

According to NSG Director General: "One injured terrorist is still inside Taj hotel. The stage seems to be set for a final operation there and the media has been asked to refrain from doing any live broadcasts from outside the hotel."

There are reports of six terrorists holed up inside the Taj hotel. There are repeated gunfires and flashes of fire at the window of the room on the first floor. The battle is now fully raging.
1:05 pm EST: Analysis -- How Mumbai attacks differ from past terror strikes (Bill Roggio @ Long War Journal)

1:17 pm EST: Planning started 6 months ago (NDTV):
An arrested terrorist has revealed that the Mumbai terror attack operation was planned about six months ago.

Investigators are examining satellite phone and GPS found on trawler seized in Arabian Sea.

Sources have told NDTV that data from GPS revealed terrorists sailed from Karachi harbour on November 12 or 13. Their phone was used to call Lashkar commander Yusuf Muzamil in Muzaffarabad.
NOTE: Wrapping up for the day over here; thanks to all visitors and linkers (Instapundit, Classical Values, Andrew Sullivan, DailyKos, and more). Check back tomorrow!

SATURDAY MORNING UPDATE: Coverage continues here...