Mumbai, formerly known as Bombay, is the capital of the Indian state of Maharashtra and the financial capital of India. With an estimated population of thirteen million, it is one of the most populated cities in the world. Along with the neighboring suburbs of Navi Mumbai and Thane, it forms, at nineteen million, the world’s fifth most populous metropolitan area. Mumbai lies on the west coast of India and has a deep natural harbour. Mumbai’s port handles over half of India’s maritime cargo. The commercial and entertainment centre of India, Mumbai generates 5% of India’s GDP and accounts for 25% of industrial output, 40% of maritime trade, and 70% of capital transactions to India’s economy.
Evidence of Mumbai’s history dates back to 250 BCE and has been continually inhabited since then, although its founding can be considered at a much earlier date.
A very lovely and lively city.
But not today. Today it is the scene of carnage, mayhem and death caused by the Religion of Peace aka Islam.
Several sites in Mumbai, India’s financial capital, were hit Wednesday night by a wave of terror attacks, reportedly aimed at Americans and Britons, that left dozens dead and hundreds injured as Indian forces battled with terrorist gunmen to free hostages from two luxury hotels.
There were varying reports of at least 50 and as many as 100 people rescued from the Taj Mahal where a fire had broken out, and India’s NDTV reported Thursday morning that authorities had the scene under control. Meanwhile, police continued to evacuate people through the Oberoi hotel’s basement, and gunmen reportedly had taken hostages elsewhere in the city.
Casualty figures varied, with most media reporting at least 80 dead and 200 injured. Of the gunmen, four were dead and nine arrested.
It isn’t clear yet what motivated the attacks, which also targeted a popular tourist attraction and a crowded train station, though eyewitnesses said gunmen were heard shouting questions about who American and British passports.
Mumbai has frequently been targeted in terrorist attacks blamed on Islamic extremists, including a series of bombings in July 2007 that killed 187 people.
A little-known organization calling itself the Deccan Mujahideen claimed it was behind attacks.
“The terrorists have used automatic weapons and in some places grenades have been lobbed,” Maharashtra Police Commissioner A.N Roy said.A British citizen who was dining at the Oberoi hotel told Sky News television that the gunmen who struck there singled out Britons and Americans.
Alex Chamberlain said a gunman, a young man of 22 or 23, ushered 30 or 40 people from the restaurant into a stairway and ordered everyone to put up their hands. He said the gunman spoke in Hindi or Urdu.
“They were talking about British and Americans specifically. There was an Italian guy, who, you know, they said: ‘Where are you from?” and he said he’s from Italy and they said ‘fine’ and they left him alone. And I thought: ‘Fine, they’re going to shoot me if they ask me anything — and thank God they didn’t,” he said.
Chamberlain said he managed to slip away as the patrons were forced to walk up stairs, but he thought much of the group was being held hostage.
Early Thursday, several European lawmakers were among people who barricaded themselves inside the Taj, a century-old seaside hotel complex and one of the city’s best-known destinations.
“I was in the main lobby and there was all of a sudden a lot of firing outside,” said Sajjad Karim, part of a delegation of European lawmakers visiting Mumbai ahead of a European Union-India summit.
As he turned to get away, “all of a sudden another gunmen appeared in front of us, carrying machine gun-type weapons. And he just started firing at us … I just turned and ran in the opposite direction,” he told The Associated Press over his mobile phone.
Hours later, Karim remained holed up in a hotel restaurant, unsure if it was safe to come out.
The British Foreign Office said it was advising all British citizens in Mumbai to stay indoors.
Britain’s foreign secretary, David Miliband, strongly condemned the attacks. “Today’s attacks in Mumbai which have claimed many innocent victims remind us, yet again, of the threat we face from violent extremists,” Miliband said in a statement.
India has been wracked by bomb attacks the past three years, which police blame on Muslim militants intent on destabilizing this largely Hindu country. Nearly 700 people have died.
Since May a militant group calling itself the Indian Mujahideen has taken credit for a string of blasts that killed more than 130 people. The most recent was in September, when a series of explosions struck a park and crowded shopping areas in the capital, New Delhi, killing 21 people and wounding about 100.
This story is still on going with more deaths to be expected. That the terrorist were using automatic weapons and grenades, the scale of the attack, and the number of attackers, leads me to the conclusion that this wasn’t the work of some splinter group, but the work of a major terrorist group. It is just too large of a scale to be done with such precision and timing by a small splinter group.
Deccan Mujahideen may have taken credit for this, but I do believe that the real forces behind these attacks are Indian Mujahideen and Al Qaeda. Only they have the means, money and power to plan and execute such an attack.
Cross posted from Monkey in the Middle