Posted tagged ‘Taj Mahal’

Europe Warned of Terror Attacks

September 29, 2010

According to officials, a German citizen of Afghan descent was the source of much of the information on a potential “Mumbai-style” terror plot (as the news called it last night) that was apparently forthcoming in Europe.

From CNN:

Ahmed Sidiqi was detained in Kabul in July and transferred to U.S. custody where he has “revealed details about the terror plot,” said the official, who did not want to be named because he is not authorized to talk to the media.

The man and several other Germans traveled from Hamburg to the Afghan-Pakistan border area in 2009, where he joined the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, an extremist group allied with al Qaeda, German intelligence officials said.

Sidiqi, once captured, “started to talk a lot,” and detailed a “Mumbai-style” attack in Europe, the German official said.

Ten men launched a carefully planned attack on buildings in Mumbai, India, on November 26, 2008. The attack on such prominent sites — such as the Taj Mahal Palace and Tower hotel, the Oberoi-Trident hotels, the historic Victoria Terminus train station and a Jewish cultural center — lasted three days and killed 164 people.

Taj Mahal Hotel Had Warning?

November 29, 2008

From 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.

“They knew what they were doing, and they did not go through the front. All of our arrangements are in the front,” he said.

“They planned everything,” he said of the attackers. “I believe the first thing they did, they shot a sniffer dog and his handler. They went through the kitchen.”

The 105-year-old hotel was one of nine sites attacked by gunmen in a 60-hour wave of terror that killed at least 183 people and injured hundreds more before it ended in a standoff at the hotel Saturday morning.

Mumbai Wrestling Away Control From Terrorists

November 27, 2008

Indian commandoes fought all day Thursday to seize control of two luxury hotels and a Jewish center from suspected Muslim militants, a day after a chain of attacks across Mumbai left at least 119 people dead and the city shellshocked.

From the Associated Press:

Gunfire and explosions were heard throughout the day and night from the besieged headquarters of the ultra-orthodox Jewish outreach group Chabad Lubavitch and the Taj Mahal and Oberoi hotels, two of the top gathering spots for the Mumbai elite. Throughout the day, commandoes brought hostages, trapped guests and corpses out of the hotels in small groups while fires erupted periodically and firefighters battled the flames.

State officials said 119 people had died and 288 were injured.

The well-planned attacks began Wednesday night and officials said the gunmen were prepared, even carrying large bags of almonds to keep up their energy during the fight. Their main targets appeared to be Americans, Britons and Jews, though most of the dead seemed to be Indians and foreign tourists caught in the random gunfire.

The gunmen — some of whom strode casually through their targets in khakis and T-shirts — clearly came ready for a siege.

“They have AK-47s and grenades. They have bags full of grenades and have come fully prepared,” said Maj. Gen. R.K. Hooda. Vice-Admiral J.S. Bedi, a top naval officer.

Ratan Tata, who runs the company that owns the elegant Taj Mahal, said they appeared to have scouted their targets in advance.

“They seem to know their way around the back office, the kitchen. There has been a considerable amount of detailed planning,” he told a news conference.

Throughout the day, black-clad Indian commandos moved through the two hotels room by room in a bid to free the dozens of trapped people.

The Maharashtra state home ministry said dozens of hostages had been freed from the Oberoi and dozens more were still trapped inside. More than 400 people were brought out of the Taj Mahal, and army forces were still scouring the building for survivors early Friday morning.

Late Thursday night, authorities said they had killed three gunmen at the Taj and were sweeping the Oberoi in search of hostages and trapped people.

It remained unclear just how many people had been taken hostage, how many were hiding inside the hotels and how many dead still lay uncounted.

There were conflicting reports about hostages at the Jewish center. A diplomat closely monitoring the site said people were still being held there, though an Indian state official said earlier eight hostages had been released. Both sources spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media.

The diplomat said the eight people had likely been hiding in a nearby building.

On Thursday morning, a woman, child and an Indian cook were led out of the building by police, said one witness. The child was identified as Moshe Holtzberg, 2, the son of Rabbi Gavriel Noach Holtzberg, the main representative at Chabad house. The child was unharmed, but his clothes were soaked in blood.

More Than 100 Dead in India Terrorist Attack

November 26, 2008

Terrorist attacks struck the heart of Mumbai, India, on Wednesday night, killing dozens in machine-gun and grenade assaults on at least two luxury hotels, the city’s largest train station, a movie theater and a hospital.

From the New York Times:

Even by the standards of terrorism in India, which has suffered a rising number of attacks this year, the assaults were particularly brazen in scale and execution. The attackers used boats to reach the urban peninsula where they hit, and their targets were sites popular with tourists.

The Mumbai police said Thursday that the attacks killed at least 101 people and wounded at least 250. Guests who had escaped the hotels told television stations that the attackers were taking hostages, singling out Americans and Britons.

A previously unknown group claimed responsibility, though that claim could not be confirmed. It remained unclear whether there was any link to outside terrorist groups.

Gunfire and explosions rang out into the morning.

Hours after the assaults began, the landmark Taj Mahal Palace & Tower Hotel, next to the famed waterfront monument the Gateway of India, was in flames.

Guests banged on the windows of the upper floors as firefighters worked to rescue them.

Fire also raged inside the luxurious Oberoi Hotel, according to the police. A militant hidden in the Oberoi told India TV on Thursday morning that seven attackers were holding hostages there.

“We want all mujahedeen held in India released, and only after that we will release the people,” he said. Some guests, including two members of the European Parliament who were visiting as part of a trade delegation, remained in hiding in the hotels, making desperate cellphone calls, some of them to television stations, describing their ordeal.

Terrorists Attack Mumbai

November 26, 2008

CNN and NBC are reporting that terrorists armed with automatic weapons and grenades attacked at least seven sites in Mumbai on Wednesday and were holding Western hostages. Police and Indian media have reported that at least 80 people were killed and more than 250 have been wounded.

From CNN:

Several people have been killed in a series of coordinated attacks targeting Mumbai sites popular with tourists and business people, according to police and CNN’s sister network in India.

Ongoing battles between police and gunmen were reported at two five-star hotels by CNN-IBN.

Gunmen armed with automatic weapons and grenades attacked targets including the hotels, a cafe, and a train station, police say.

Police confirmed 26 deaths but IBN said at least 55 people were killed and nearly 200 wounded in the coordinated strikes.

The attacks included five shootouts and two grenade attacks, said a police officer who answered Mumbai’s police control room line.

IBN reported an ongoing battle at the five-star Oberoi Hotel where gunmen have reportedly taken hostages after searching out people with U.S. or British passports.

At a second top hotel, the Taj, IBN reported more gunfire and chaos as a grenade exploded.

The attacks began about 2230 local time (1700 GMT) and more than two hours later witnesses were reporting new explosions and gunfire.

The targets include businesses frequented by international visitors in the city which is India’s financial center.

CNN correspondent Andrew Stevens said: “We are getting reports of ongoing incidents at the railway station and the Oberoi Hotel.

“We do not know if this has reached its peak or if more attacks to come.”

A local journalist told CNN he had seen evidence of an attack at the city’s domestic airport, which is on the outskirts of the Mumbai.

From NBC:

The gunmen targeted luxury hotels, a popular restaurant, a police station, a crowded train station and other sites in India’s financial capital in attacks that began late Wednesday and continued into Thursday, police and witnesses said.

“We have reports of 80 people dead and at least 250 injured. Many have serious injuries and the toll will go up,” P.D. Ghadge, a police officer in the main control room in Mumbai, told Reuters.

A.N. Roy, a senior police officer, said police were continuing to battle the gunmen. “The terrorists have used automatic weapons and in some places grenades have been lobbed, the encounters are still going on and we are trying to overpower them,” he said.

Gunmen opened fire on two of the city’s best-known Luxury hotels, the Taj Mahal and the Oberoi, and some reports said they took hostages.

The attackers were holding an unknown number of Western hostages at the Taj, television reports said.

They also attacked a police station, the crowded Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus station in southern Mumbai and Leopold’s restaurant, a Mumbai landmark.

The motive was not immediately clear but Mumbai has frequently been targeted in terror attacks, including a series of blasts in July 2007 that killed 187 people.

“It was really scary. It was like the sound of loud crackers, not one but several, we just ran out of there,” said Janice Sequeira, a tourist who had been at a restaurant in the Taj Mahal Hotel.

“The lobby of the Taj hotel is on fire,” a police spokesman told Reuters. “We are trying to find out how many people are inside the hotel.”

At the Oberoi, police officer P.I. Patil said shots had been fired inside and the hotel had been cordoned off. He would not give any other details.

Some of the injured were evacuated from the Taj on the hotel’s golden luggage carts, while waiters in black and white formal wear and chefs were seen leaving the Oberoi.


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