Sunday, November 30, 2008

MUMBAI TERROR, DAY 5 -- THE AFTERMATH: A few updates on the latest developments overnight (see yesterday's coverage here):

2:52 am EST: Captured terrorist speaks (Daily Mail):
The only terrorist captured alive after the Mumbai massacre has given police the first full account of the extraordinary events that led to it – revealing he was ordered to ‘kill until the last breath’.

Azam Amir Kasab, 21, from Pakistan, said the attacks were meticulously planned six months ago and were intended to kill 5,000 people.

He revealed that the ten terrorists, who were highly trained in marine assault and crept into the city by boat, had planned to blow up the Taj Mahal Palace hotel after first executing British and American tourists and then taking hostages.

Mercifully, the group, armed with plastic explosives, underestimated the strength of the 105-year-old building’s solid foundations. . . . 

Once inside Nair Hospital, Kasab, who suffered only minor injuries, told medical staff: ‘I do not want to die. Please put me on saline.’
3:33 am EST: India's Home minister resigns (NDTV):
Home Minister Shivraj Patil has resigned owning moral responsibility for the Mumbai attacks that left almost 200 people dead and the entire nation angry over the latter part of this week.

Patil sent his resignation to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Sunday.
3:37 am EST: Taj Mahal hotel owner -- 'We had warning' (CNN)
The Taj Mahal hotel in Mumbai, India, temporarily increased security after being warned of a possible terrorist attack, the chairman of the company that owns the hotel said Saturday.

But Tata Group Chairman Ratan Tata said those measures, which were eased shortly before this week's terror attacks, could not have prevented gunmen from entering the hotel.

"If I look at what we had ... it could not have stopped what took place," Tata said in an interview with CNN's Fareed Zakaria that will air Sunday.

"It's ironic that we did have such a warning, and we did have some measures," Tata said, without elaborating on the warning or when security measures were enacted. "People couldn't park their cars in the portico, where you had to go through a metal detector."

However, Tata said the attackers did not enter through the entrance that has a metal detector. Instead, they came in a back entrance, he said.
3:41 am EST: Mumbai local helped terrorists (Times of India):
Azam Amir Kasab, the only Pakistani terrorist nabbed alive, has revealed names and addresses of at least five people from the city who helped the terror operation.

Sources said that help like, providing shelter, taking them around and showing places, passing information on police stations and
nakabandhis were given by these locals.
3:50 am EST: Death toll could soar to 300 (Telegraph):
The official death toll stood last night at 195, but authorities acknowledge that scores of bodies have not been included in the total. At least 22 of the dead are not Indian nationals, including a Briton, five US citizens and six Israelis. At least 295 people have been injured. Of those, 23 are foreigners, including several Britons.

A final death toll will not emerge until the end of operations to ensure the hotel rooms and corridors are cleared of booby traps. However, S Jadhav, from Mumbai's disaster management unit, predicted the figure would approach 300. 
3:59 am EST: India fury at Pakistan growing (Guardian):
Tensions between India and Pakistan escalated last night after it was claimed that the only terrorist to have survived three days of deadly battles in Mumbai was from Pakistan, and that his nine fellow Islamist militants were either from that country or had been trained there.

The claims about responsibility for the attack, in which almost 200 people were killed, came from leaked police accounts that gave details of the interrogation of Azam Amir Kasab, 21, said to have been the man pictured at Mumbai's main train station carrying an assault rifle and grenades.

According to the reports, which could not be independently verified, Kasab said that the operation was the responsibility of Lashkar-e-Taiba, a jihadist group based in Pakistan, and its aim was to 'kill as many as possible' in what was intended to be India's 9/11.
4:07 am EST: Anger at politicians (Reuters):
Indians blazed criticism against their political leaders on Sunday after the attacks in Mumbai which killed almost 200 people, saying their bickering and ineptness was at least partly responsible.

As commandos gunned down the last of the militants, TV channels were divided between covering the operations and an outpouring of venom against both the ruling Congress party-led coalition and the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
4.38 am EST: The Headline of the Day Award goes to: "Forget who came by boat, worry on who came by vote" (Commodity Online)

6:01 am EST: Won't keep down (Times UK)
Leopold Café, the Bombay landmark beloved of locals and backpackers alike, reopened this morning in a gesture of defiance to the suspected Pakistani militants who attacked this and nine other sites around the city last week.
8:17 am EST: Pakistan denies, tension not abated (Sky News):
Pakistan has "categorically denied" any involvement in the Mumbai terror attacks . . . . India has said it has proof of Pakistani links to the bloodshed, and claims the sole survivor of the gunmen - Mohammad Ajmal Qasam - is from the country.

But Wajid Hasan, Pakistan's high commissioner to London, told Sky News it was a "very confusing situation" and stressed it was important not to get involved in the "blame game".

Asked whether Pakistan feared the Indian reaction to the massacre, he said "we have got to get ready and prepare for any eventuality" and his country would not "take it lying down".

Pakistan has warned it would move troops to the Indian border if tensions rose between the nuclear-armed rivals.

An official in Islamabad said the next one to two days would be crucial for their relations.