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Indian 9/ 11
Written by   
, 27 2008

1In Mumbai there was a series of terrorist attacks, unprecedented in scale and number

The financial capital and largest city of India, Mumbai (formerly Bombay) became the target of unprecedented terrorist attacks. Asa result of a series of bombings and shootings, more than a hundred were killed, and the number of victims is likely to be much higher. TheIndian media has dubbed the event India's September 11th, and this is obviously not without justification: the attack on November 26th was the largest of 2008.

Most of the attacks were carried out in the south of Mumbai. Terrorists attacked hotels and cafes, as well as a police headquarters and a hospital.

Fright Night

The first object of attack was the Cafe Leopold in Mumbai's the popular tourist district of Kolabe. Ataround 21:30 21:50 local time, two terrorists burst into the restaurant and opened fire on cafe customers with AK-47s. At22:00 22:30 a few thugs entered into the railway station at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (formerly the Victoria Terminus). Besides the fact that this is busiest station in the country, it is also the administrative headquarters of one of the nation's largest transportation zones, the Central Railroad. Theterrorists opened fire on people in the station with automatic weapons, and then continued shooting outside in the street. Twoterrorists headed towards the Metro Cinema movie theater.

Almost simultaneously, shots were fired near the five-star Hotel Oberon. Afew minutes later there were two powerful explosions in the hotel. At22:15 terrorists opened fire near another prestigious hotel, the Taj Mahal. Sixbombs were set off in the hotel, causing it to catch fire. Later 8 kg of RDX were found in a restaurant near the Taj Mahal hotel.

At 22:30 a powerful blast was reported near the port an explosive device hidden in a taxi had gone off. TheNariman House residential complex underwent attack when two terrorists tossed grenades at a gas station located next to the building. Agrenade landed on the building and destroyed its facade. After this, armed gunmen broke in, shot, and killed two people. Atthe same time, terrorists seized the Hotel Oberon and the Taj Mahal Hotel. Itwas also learned that blasts occurred in the Vile Parla suburb, the only attack in the north of the city. Bandits shot up police headquarters, killing the chief of counter-terrorism for the city, as well as the head of SWAT, and opened fire at the Kama Hospital. Theyalso took hostages at the hospital. Dozens of hostages were captured at the Oberon and Taj Mahal hotels, and the Nariman House. Inless than two hours there were about a dozen sites in the city that had been seized or shot up by the terrorists.

In Mumbai the shootings and bombings continued throughout the night and into the morning. OnNovember 27th, during the day, there were five explosions at the Hotel Oberon, and another bomb exploded near the Taj Mahal Hotel.

Counterattack did not come off

In order to fight off an attack of such unprecedented cruelty and scale, to the city of Mumbai were sent about 800soldiers, not counting many Special Forces commandos. There were periodic messages about the storming of this or that building. There was no accurate information on the number of hostages: there could be hundreds in the hotels captured by the terrorists, but exactly how many tourists were in the hands of criminals, no one had any idea. Intotal the Taj Mahal and Oberon hotels had at least 65hostages, and many hotel guests were hiding either in their rooms or in other areas.

On the afternoon of November 27th the police said that all of the hostages from the Taj Mahal Hotel had been released. According to tourists who fled the hotel on their own, the police in the city had no control over the situation. Ina CNN interview, an Australian tourist, who along with 250other foreigners took refuge in a concert hall during the attack, the Australian tourist said he heard no police sirens. Whentourists understood that the bomb-damaged building was on fire, they left the hotel on their own, by climbing down from the windows using curtains.

According to police, there were no hostages remaining in the Hotel Oberon. During the course of the entire day, they stormed the hotel. Thecommandos almost had to fight for every floor, since the terrorists obviously did not intend to surrender. Complicating the situation was the fact that no one knew how much explosives might be in the captured hotels.

Who, why and how

A hitherto unknown group, the Deccan Mujahidin, claimed responsibility for the incident. Letters from the organization were sent to the local media. Tomost people the name means nothing, except they are ordinary bandits using the guise of Islam. Ifthis is a real group, then we must give it its due not one of the more famous terrorist organizations can boast of a brighter 'debut'. Judging by the pictures broadcast in the Indian media, the commandoes were able to capture two terrorists, aged 20to 30years, and most likely from India or Pakistan.

Many observers, however, believe that hiding under the name 'Deccan Mujahidin' is a group already well known for a series of bombings in 2008: the Indian Mujahidin, which is responsible for at least four major terrorist attacks in India: at Delhi, Ahmedabad, Bangalore, and Jaipur. Thisis likely, since in September these terrorists promised to carry out major terrorist attacks in Mumbai. Thereason for the threat was harassment that local Muslims were allegedly subjected to.

By tradition, some experts linked the attacks with the activities of Al Qaeda, without mentioning that this group no longer seems to carry out any such incidents. Indian police said that among the attackers, the exact number of which has not yet been established, there are Pakistanis. Perhaps the situation will be somewhat clearer after interrogations of the terrorists that the police managed to take alive. Now, however, while not all the terrorists sheltering in Mumbai are yet in the morgue, it is a bit premature to speculate on who organized the attacks. Onecan only to acknowledge that the attack on the city was very carefully planned, and the bandits were very well trained.

Surviving eyewitnesses told reporters that the bandits were interested primarily in foreigners, mainly British and Americans. Several sources said that terrorists allegedly demanded ransom for the hostages, and the release of their members from prison, but judging by the way the events unfolded, it seems unlikely that the attackers wanted to get money or gain the freedom of like-minded people.

The Indian intelligence agencies now have to answer many questions. Itis unclear how the police managed to miss preparations for the terrorist attack. Itis unlikely that the terrorists set dozens of kilos of explosives in hotels on the fly, and an upcoming terror attack on Mumbai was known almost six months ago. Noris it known how several boats could have sailed unnoticed to the city, and in moments unload a small army of armed criminals. Alsoneeding an answer: what steps must now be taken to prevent this in the future?

The authorities must seek answers to these questions very, very quickly.

In 'Lenta.ru'

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