As your correspondent writes, Indian Special Forces continue to battle militants in two Mumbai hotels in an effort to rescue hostages held inside. Dead bodies are said to litter the corridors, suggesting that the final total may be in excess of the 400 dead and wounded already estimated. The militants apparently entered through the Gateway to India and moved out across the southern peninsula of the city before attacking spots popular with tourists. These include the Taj Mahal Palace and the Trident-Oberoi Hotel.
The militants appear to be linked to the problem in Kashmir. One of the gunman talking to a TV station is believed to have spoken with a Kashmiri accent. “Ask the government to talk to us and we will release the hostages,” he said, “Are you aware how many people have been killed in Kashmir?” The Pakistan government strongly condemned the attacks. A group called the Deccan Mujahedeen have claimed responsibility.
Amitabh Bachchan described the attacks as ‘a terrible situation’ and Sharmila Tagore as ‘devastating.’ She went on to say, “I am from Mumbai. I’ve been here for so long that it was really devastating to see all that is happening in the city. There seems to be no near end to these terror activities.”
Film director Kaushik Ghatak felt this would be a big blow to Mumbai as a film-making centre. “The industry will definitely be affected,” he said, “As it is, so many producers are planning to set up their studios outside Mumbai. Even though no place is safe at the moment, repeated attacks are making the city even more unsafe. If attacks continue, people will not shoot in Mumbai.”
Australian actress Brooke Satchwell, who starred in Neighbours, hid in a bathroom in the Taj during the attack and narrowly escaped with her life. “There were people getting shot in the corridor,” she explained, “There was someone dead outside the bathroom. The next thing I knew I was running down the stairs and there were a couple of dead bodies across the stairs. It was chaos.”
Bollywood actor Ashish Chaudhary, recently seen in EMI, had his sister taken hostage in the Trident Oberoi. “My sister Monica and her husband have been inside the hotel along with maybe 40 other hostages. They came here for dinner last night, but now they are not answering any calls,” he said, “My parents have been here since last night and when we last heard from them, they told us that they have seen two terrorists and have heard a lot of gun shots. I didn’t come at night fearing there will be panic, but since morning I have been standing here, waiting for them to be released.”
Our thoughts are with all the innocent who have suffered from this horrendous event.