Mumbai: Hostages freed as PM blames ‘outsiders’

*This is following a very well-defined script, isn’t it?*

MUMBAI, India (CNN) — 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.

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 at the Oberoi and Taj Mahal hotels and a Jewish center in the city.

Police had some success with 10 hostages reportedly freed from the Oberoi despite a major fire.

Shortly after authorities said the siege had ended at the Taj Mahal hotel, two explosions were heard, similar to the six blasts heard earlier.

It was not immediately clear what caused any of the explosions. Witnesses said continuous gunfire could be heard at the hotel.

A fire from earlier billowed smoke through one of the hotel’s windows, as firefighters poured water over the plumes.

A few blocks away, at the Hotel Oberoi, a major fire raged Thursday night through one floor there, CNN’s sister network in India, CNN-IBN, said.

The network reported 30 people were trapped, and said gunshots could be heard. Later, an explosion was heard from the hotel’s rear side.

At least three or four terrorists are still holding hostages in both the Taj Mahal and Oberoi hotels, British officials told CNN on Thursday.

Meanwhile, Singh suggested the group behind the attacks probably had “external linkages.”

“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,” he said.

The death toll from the series of coordinated attacks was at 125, including at least six foreigners, by Thursday evening authorities said. An Italian and Briton were among the confirmed dead.

Another 327 people were wounded in the attacks, including seven British, three American and two Australian citizens.

In addition, at least nine gunmen were killed in fighting with police. CNN’s sister network in India, CNN-IBN, quoted police sources as saying they believed there were around 26 gunmen, most of them young.

Also among the dead was Hemant Karkare, the chief of the Mumbai police’s anti-terror squad, and 14 police officers.

Indian officials have told Canada that they believe six Canadians are being held hostage in the two hotels, according to a senior aide to Prime Minister Stephen Harper. The Canadian government has no information of its own to confirm the number or to ascertain if they are among the dead or injured, being held captive or just stuck in the hotels.

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.

Two women and an infant were seen escaping from the building but three to four residents remained captive inside, an Indian official said.

Police said gunmen fired indiscriminately from the building. Stray bullets killed a couple in their home and a 16-year-old boy who stepped outside, police said.

Police surrounded the building and exchanged gunfire in which one of the gunmen reportedly was shot, CNN-IBN said.


One thought on “Mumbai: Hostages freed as PM blames ‘outsiders’

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s