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Mumbai's Oberoi Hotel under army control

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2008-11-28

An Indian commando chief says the Oberoi/Trident Hotel is "under our control" after elite commandos stormed the building. Earlier, almost a hundred hostages emerged from the building after being trapped in the hotel since Wednesday evening.

'I never thought I'd make it' - Click here for a witness account of the Mumbai attacks

 

Also read: 'Citizen journalism' offers intimate view of Mumbai attacks

 

And watch our Top Story: 'Terror in Mumbai'

 

The chief of India's elite commando unit told reporters that Mumbai’s Oberoi/Trident Hotel was "under our control" after troops stormed the buildings and battled to free hostages held since Wednesday evening. According to J.K. Dutt, his forces have killed two suspected terrorists who had participated in a series of bloody attacks on Mumbai landmark sites.

Twenty-four bodies were also found at the Oberoi Hotel during operations to regain control of the building, the police said. "The operation is complete. We have recovered 24 bodies today," Mumbai police chief Hassan Ghafoor told reporters outside the hotel. It was unclear whether the 24 bodies found inside the hotel were in addition to the 121 people already reported dead since Wednesday evening.

Earlier, Indian police announced that 93 guests had been evacuated so far in commando “mopping up” operations that began Friday morning. According to local media, however, a total of 148 guests, many of them foreigners, were rescued.

“They are taking care of everybody,” said an Indian woman as she left the scene of her ordeal with her husband. Well-dressed guests, some dragging their suitcases, emerged from the hotel and were escorted into waiting buses and cars. One man, apparently a cook, was cradling a baby.
 
Some 20 French nationals and an Air France crew trapped inside the hotel were among the group rescued, according to France's foreign minister, Bernard Kouchner.
    
Scores of guests had been trapped in their rooms, too terrified to move. Some gave hair-raising accounts of the dramatic scenes inside.
   
"We've been waiting for hours and hours for the army to come and say we can go downstairs," one Western woman told AFP by mobile phone late Thursday from inside the Oberoi hotel.
   
"We have to keep silent. They could be looking for hostages," she said.

The heavily armed gunmen allegedly belonged to the Deccan Mujahideen, a previously unknown militant group. One of the gunmen holed up inside the Oberoi on Thursday told India TV by phone that the Islamists had carried out the attacks, which included a shooting rampage at the Mumbai train station, in response to the alleged persecution of Indian Muslims.

Armed with assault rifles and grenades, the gunmen began their bloody shooting spree on Wednesday, attacking sites known to be popular with tourists and businessmen such as a café, luxury hotels and a business and residential complex that houses a Jewish centre.

Date created : 2008-11-28

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