India troops mop up last Mumbai militants
Saturday 29 November 2008
Indian commandos killed the last Islamist gunmen holed up at Mumbai's Taj Mahal hotel early today, ending a three-day battle across the financial capital that left at least 195 dead.
"Taj is under our control," Mumbai police chief Hasan Gafoor told Reuters, shortly after the building was raked by heavy gunfire as flames leapt from windows.
At least three militants and one trooper were killed after a running gunbattle through a maze of corridors, rooms and halls, the country's commando chief, Jyoti Krishna Dutt, told reporters.
The gunmen had set parts of the hotel ablaze as they played cat and mouse with scores of India's best-trained commandos, known as the Black Cats.
Sniffer dogs were taken into the iconic 105-year-old hotel and ambulances arrived. Some commandos did a final sweep of the rooms, while others boarded buses to pull out, looking exhausted.
Ratan Tata, the chairman of the Tata Group of companies which owns the hotel, arrived at the premises later in the morning. He may be shocked by what he finds when he is finally let inside.
"The lobby is an absolute mess," said Manish Mundra, a volunteer who was bringing food to security forces and had been inside the hotel. "The furniture is broken, there is water everywhere they are never going to to be able to reuse any of that stuff."
Black streaks of soot stained the grey bricks, white balconies and red-tiled roofs of the hotel's facade. Two of its corner stained-glass windows were broken.
The Taj Mahal was the last battleground after three days of intense fighting in various parts of the city of 18 million.
Several newspapers said some of the militants had checked into the Taj hotel some days or weeks before the attacks, while the Times of India said they had rented an apartment in the city a few months ago pretending to be students.
On Friday, an army general said the gunmen appeared to be "very, very familiar" with the layout of the hotel, giving them a crucial advantage over his men. They were also well trained.
"At times we found them matching us in combat and movement," one commando told the Hindustan Times. "They were either army regulars or have done a long stint of commando training."
Mumbai police said that at least 195 people had been killed and "we are still counting" as bodies were collected from the luxury Taj and nearby Trident-Oberoi hotels, scene of another siege that ended on Friday.
Well-dressed but haggard-looking guests were let back to their rooms in the Trident wing of the hotel on Saturday morning to collect their belongings.
Staff said they would re-open that wing on Wednesday, but not the Oberoi wing which was badly hit by a long gunbattle.
The Trident lobby was covered in broken glass, with bullet holes in the glass stair bannisters and in the doors leading into the Opium bar. A grand piano was left unscathed, but cars parked outside were also riddled with bullet holes.
- 1 Autism 'caused by genetics', study suggests
- 2 What happens to your body when you give up sugar?
- 3 Why you should never make assumptions about people with autism
- 4 Tourist films plane's descent just metres above packed Caribbean beach
- 5 Have sex with your iPad thanks to the new sex toy no-one asked for
Tourist films plane's descent just metres above packed Caribbean beach
Bali nine: Welcome to 'Execution Island' – the Indonesian holiday resort where foreigners are sent to die
How Homer Simpson discovered the Higgs boson over a decade before scientists
The 'sex selfie stick' lets you FaceTime the inside of a vagina
Harrison Ford plane crash: Star Wars actor 'seriously injured' after light aircraft crash lands
Durham Free School: 'Creationism taught at' free school facing closure
Nearly 100,000 of Britain's poorest children go hungry after parents' benefits are cut
End of the licence fee: BBC to back radical overhaul of how it is funded
Ex-head of MI6: 'We shouldn't kid ourselves that Russia is on a path to democracy'
Most people think legal tax avoidance is just as wrong as illegal tax evasion, poll suggests
Nigel Farage promises Ukip will not 'stigmatise' would-be migrants – and says he wants 'everyone to speak the same language'
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing experience-led technology co...
£23000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company specialises in the...
£45000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...
£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunit...