27 Nov 2008

At least 80 dead in Mumbai attacks

10:57 am on 27 November 2008

At least 80 people are reported to have been killed in the latest series of terrorist attacks in India's financial capital Mumbai (Bombay) on Wednesday night.

Police say the toll will go higher. At least 250 people are reported to be wounded.

Fresh explosions were heard in the early hours of Thursday.

The chief of Mumbai's police anti-terrorist squad, Hemant Karkare, is among those reported killed.

Two five-star hotels are among the targets in what police call a co-ordinated terror attack.

They say gunmen have taken hostages at two hotels.

A previously unknown organisation calling itself the Deccan Mujahideen has claimed it was behind the attacks.

Attacks at 7 sites

Maharahstra state police chief A.N. Roy told the NDTV news channel the attackers fired automatic weapons and used grenades.

At least seven sites are reportedly involved. He added that the gunmen were still in some buildings.

Police said targets included the Taj and Oberoi hotels. Television stations showed the lobby of both hotels on fire and people being evacuated from the Oberoi with their hands on their heads.

Television stations also reported shooting outside the Cafe Leopold, a popular restaurant for tourists.

The Press Trust of India quoted police as saying that 10 people were killed and more than 30 people wounded in gunfire at the main railway station, Chhatrapati Shivaji.

The agency also reports three people were shot dead in the Taj Mahal hotel.

European MPs involved

A British member of the European parliament is among the guests under siege in a hotel in Mumbai.

Sajjad Karim, a Conservative, told the Press Association he took safety in a barricaded room in the basement after a gunman began shooting in the lobby of the hotel.

Mr Karim is part of a delegation of Euro-MPs visiting Mumbai ahead of the forthcoming EU-India summit.

The head of the Madrid regional government, Esperanza Aguirre, escaped unhurt when shooting began as she and her delegation were checking into the Oberoi Hotel. They were evacuated by security staff.

Another witness at the Taj Hotel has told Indian television that the gunmen were looking for holders of British and American passports.

He told the NDTV news channel: "They wanted foreigners."

Previous attacks

A series of attacks in Mumbai on 11 July 2006 killed almost 190 people and wounded more than 700.

Bombs were detonated on commuter trains during rush hour.

There were two previous bomb attacks in Mumbai in 2003: a bomb on a commuter train killed 11 people on 13 March and two car bombs killed about 60 people on 25 August that year.

The BBC reports there has been a wave of bombings in Indian cities in recent months which has left scores of people dead.