21 Dec 2008

Mumbai hotel deaths result of police error say guests

9:45 pm on 21 December 2008

Hostages caught up in the attacks in the Indian city of Mumbai last month which killed at least 170 people have made a number of claims about police competence.

They have told the BBC a number of people trapped in the Taj Mahal Palace hotel, one of the luxury hotels seized by militant gunmen, were told by police it was safe to leave the building, only to be shot dead as they escaped.

Shilpa, a dress designer from the city, says her aunt was killed and her cousin seriously wounded because they followed police instructions to leave.

She described the police conduct as disgraceful.

A Mumbai doctor who was taken hostage Prashant Mangeshikar says he hadn't trusted the instructions given by the officers.

He says the police were sending guests down a different route where the terrorists were supposed to be.

But Dr Madashika says that he refused to go and the 20 or 30 people who ran ahead of him all died.

Police have denied the allegations.

Meanwhile, the Taj Mahal and Trident Oberoi, which was also targeted in the attacks, are due to re-open for business.

According to the BBC more than 1,000 guests have been invited to the opening of the Taj where 268 rooms are available.

Trident Hotels president Rattan Keswani told the BBC that the hotel would be fitted with surveillance systems, baggage scanners and strict security.

Ten gunmen attacked prominent locations in India's financial capital including the two hotels from 26-29 November.

Nine of the gunmen were killed and only one survived. He is in police custody.

India has blamed the attacks on the Pakistan-based militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba. Pakistan has denied any involvement.