Fighting rages in Mumbai, Pakistani link made

Fighting rages in Mumbai, Pakistani link made
MUMBAI, India (CNN) — Fighting continued to rage at two sites in Mumbai Friday as India again suggested that the terrorists behind the deadly attacks involved “elements in Pakistan.”
An Indian soldier prepares to return fire outside the Taj Mahal Hotel in Mumbai.

An Indian soldier prepares to return fire outside the Taj Mahal Hotel in Mumbai.
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Pakistan, in turn, disputed the claim and offered to send its intelligence chief to assist with the investigation.

By Friday night authorities had cleared the Oberoi Hotel, killing two militants and freeing hundreds of trapped guests.

But standoffs continued at the Taj Mahal Hotel — where one gunmen is still holed up — and the Chabad House, where several Jewish people are reportedly being held hostage by two to three gunmen, police said. Video Watch as blasts hit Taj »

Onlookers and reporters at both sites cowered behind cars as gunmen and police exchanged gunfire and explosions could be heard. An AFP journalist was reportedly injured outside the Taj.

The death toll from Wednesday’s attacks in nine locations was 146, including eight foreigners, with a further 327 injured.Video Watch report about hotel gunmen still fighting »

R.R. Patel, the Maharashtra home minister, said nine gunmen had been killed. Another nine had been captured alive.Video Watch report about Nariman House stormed »

Meanwhile, Pranab Mukherjee, the external affairs minister for Maharashtra state, where Mumbai is located, said the preliminary investigation “indicates that some elements in Pakistan are involved.”

“I can’t tell you the details since the investigation is going on,” he said. “Until the investigation is complete, it will be difficult to say where they came from and how they came.”

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh also indicated the gunmen came from Pakistan’s largest city, Karachi, in a telephone call with his Pakistani counterpart Friday.

In response, Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said he would send the chief of his country’s intelligence agency to help with the investigation. Video Listen to Israel’s response »

Police said two terrorists were killed in the Oberoi operation and 30 bodies had been recovered. Officers were going from floor to floor checking for more victims.

Relieved guests, many of them foreigners and some children, hugged one another before boarding buses and vans brought in to take them away. Video Watch eyewitness to attack discuss his experience »

The gunmen were young men in their 20s who “obviously had to be trained somewhere,” a member of the Indian navy’s commando unit said Friday.

They fired at guests “with no remorse” and knew the layout of the hotels well enough to “vanish” after confronting security forces, the commando said.

“Not everybody can fire the AK series of weapons, not everybody can throw a grenade like that,” the commando said outside the Taj hotel. “It is obvious that they were trained somewhere.”

The shell-shocked city woke Friday to television images of Indian soldiers rappelling down ropes from military choppers on to the roof of the Nariman House, which houses the Mumbai headquarters of the Chabad community, a Hasidic Jewish movement. Video Watch the commando talk about the attackers »

Rabbi Gavriel Noach Holtzberg, the city’s envoy for the Chabad community, and his wife were believed to be inside. A cook at the center, who had barricaded herself in a room, grabbed the couple’s 2-year-old son and escaped with another person, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported.

The identity of the attackers remained a mystery. Police said they came by boats to the waterfront near the Gateway of India monument and the two hotels. Video Watch Pakistan’s response to attacks »

The Indian navy, stepping up patrols on the country’s western coast after the attack, was questioning the crew of the MV Alpha. Authorities suspect the attacks originated from the ship, which they believe is from Karachi.

Karachi police said they had no evidence the attackers departed from their city.

The Press Trust of India, citing Union Cabinet Minister Kapil Sibal, reported the gunmen had worked for months to prepare, even setting up “control rooms” in the two luxury hotels that were targeted.

Indian authorities said no one had claimed responsibility, although the Deccan Mujahideen took credit in e-mails sent to several Indian news outlets. Video Watch analysis of Mumbai attacks »
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Interpol said it would send a delegation to India.

“When such coordinated and planned terrorist attacks are carried out against international targets and when a country’s head of government states there are suspected ‘external linkages’, the police in the country concerned require international assistance,” said Interpol’s Secretary General Ronald K. Noble.

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~ by sunil khemaney on November 28, 2008.

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