With the gunning down of the last terrorist holed up inside the Taj Hotel on Saturday morning, the 59-hour-long terror siege in Mumbai finally came to an end.
‘Operation Cyclone’ at the Taj hotel concluded with NSG commandoes completing the search and sanitisation process. The commandos defused the live bombs and ammunition found inside the building.
Addressing the media on Saturday evening, DG NSG J K Dutt confirmed that four bodies of terrorists were recovered from Taj Hotel with their AK-47s while bodies of two terrorists each were found at Nariman House and Oberoi Hotel, respectively. He however denied reports of RDX being recovered from the hotel.
Talking about the bodies found at the Taj, Dutt confirmed, “We found 20 bodies of the hostages from the Taj on Saturday and rescued one hotel employee from who was trembling.”
“We found three terrorists' bodies in the morning while one terrorist’s body was found in the afternoon. All four terrorists’ bodies were lying with their AK-47 guns along with unexploded hand grenades. We first checked all the rooms to see if the terrorists had hidden any explosives in any corner of the room. During our operation we tried to minimise the collateral damage to the building,” he added.
Throwing light on the terrorists’ modus operandi, Dutt added, “They used sign language to communicate. From their movements inside the hotel one could make out that they were familiar with the structure of the building.”
The Centre released the data of casualties and people saved from the three places. According to the data, 60 people were rescued from the Nariman House whereas 250 and 300 people were rescued from the Hotel Oberoi and Taj respectively.
The number of police officers killed in the operation has been put at 20 while nine terrorists have been killed during the operations. Meanwhile, the arrested terrorist, AA Kasab, has been sent to police custody till December 11.
According to the police, the terrorists had plotted to kill as many as 5,000 people in the attack. The police are also probing the involvement of Dawood Ibrahim in these attacks and has also said to have recovered Mumbai college Id cards from the terrorists besides recovering large quantity of arms and ammunition.
Special Secretary to the Home Minister M L Kumawat in a press conference gave a list of ammunitions received from Nariman House, Trident Oberoi and Taj Hotel:
Nariman House: 2 AK-47; 9 magazines, 2 pistols (7.62 mm), mobile phones (details of the mobile phones are yet to be developed).
Trident Oberoi: 2 AK-47, 8 magazines, 2 pistols (7.62 mm), 3 hand grenades.
Taj Hotel: 4 AK-47 and unexploded hand grenades have been recovered.
The entire stock of the arms and ammunitions were accumulated inside the city over a long period of time, Kumawat said.
He added that a massive combing operation is being carried out in the entire marine zone by the Cost Guard and the NSG team to search for any other terrorists. The apprehended terrorist is being continuously interrogated.
Taking a precautionary measure the government has made it necessary to register the shipping boats.
Meanwhile, the death toll in Mumbai terror attack was put at 183, according to the data released by the Centre. The number of injured are said to be over 295. The casualties include 22 foreigners.
Among the dead foreigners, five are from Israel and the US, two each from Australia, Canada and France, one each from Singapore, UK, Japan, Italy, Thailand and Germany among others.
Among the Israeli victims, two have been formally identified, namely Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and his wife Rivka.
Two US victims have been identified and these are the father and daughter duo of Alan and Naomi Scherr.
The two French victims are Loumia Hiridjee and her husband Mourad Amarsy. Doug Markell (71 years) and Brett Taylor (49 years) are the two Australian victims.
The two Canadian victims have not so far been named, while the German victim has been identified as Ralph Burkei. The Thai victim has been identified as a woman worker in the Trident Hotel's spa.
The other identified victims are Lo Hwei Yen from Singapore, a 28 year woman Andreas Liveras, a 73 year-old British-Cypriot businessman; Hisashi Tsuda (38 years from Japan) and Antonio de Lorenzo from Italy.
The Mumbai police are believed to have detained a terror suspect from Intercontinental Hotel in Mumbai. The detainee reportedly had a number of wireless sets with him.
Speaking to reporters outside the 100-year-old heritage hotel in Colaba, Dutt, DG NSG, told media persons, "Three terrorists have been killed (this morning)… after intense gun-battle inside the hotel."
The forces had secured the other luxury hotel Trident Oberoi and a Jewish Centre on Friday.
Mumbai Police Commissioner Hassan Gafoor separately told reporters that four terrorists were holed up at the Taj and they had been killed.
Ratan Tata, Chairman of the Tata Group visited Taj on Saturday and surveyed the damage done to the hotel building during the 59-hour operation.
After being allowed inside the hotel following the sanitisation of the building, Ratan Tata said that they would rebuild the Taj to its past glory.
The Taj Hotel building has taken a grave beating due to heavy gunfire, grenade explosions and fire.
The Taj Hotel management has also dismissed reports that one of the terrorists was working as a chef there.
The Centre has announced an ex-gratia of Rs 2 lakh for the kin of deceased and Rs 1 lakh for the injured.
Nariman House cleared
After a long drawn battle that stretched for nearly 48 hours, the NSG commandoes were finally successful in sanitising the Nariman House from insurgents on Friday night.
The news was confirmed by DG NSG J K Dutt after an intensive operation followed up by a thorough search and sanitisation process. Expressing satisfaction over the successful completion of the Nariman siege, he added that he was overwhelmed by the faith and affection shown by the people. “The NSG has refrained from killing innocents and would not shy away from making sacrifices”, he said.
Earlier, two terrorists had been eliminated and only one was holding out on the third floor. But after a sustained attack by the security forces, he too succumbed.
Search operations were then conducted to ensure no remnants of terror.
The commandos had found two bodies on the second floor taking the count of the civilian fatalities to five. It included a young Jewish couple whose infant child was evacuated on Thursday.
The operation had reached a decisive phase following a controlled explosion in the outer wall of the fourth floor of the building that paved way for the commandoes to push in and gun down the terrorists. The lights of the area had been switched off and flood lights were being utilized by the forces.
The commandoes had gained ground earlier when they were able to clear the fifth floor completely forcing the terrorists to move down. The forces also recovered some ammunition including an AK-47 and hand grenades.
But the militants had put up stiff resistance by intermittently hurling grenades.
With dusk fast approaching, the task was cut for the NSG daredevils, who were looking to wrapping up the operations in daylight.
The entire operation took more than 47 hours and was perhaps one of the most difficult to conclude. The building is located in a very congested area and severely restricts movement. Moreover there was a danger of the terrorists shifting to other buildings.
NSG commandoes, who were airdropped onto the roof of the building, were given additional ammunition as more LMGs, HMGs and rocket propellers were sent .
On Friday around 7.30 am, commandos aboard a helicopter first carried out aerial firing on the top floors of Nariman House and then slid down on ropes onto the roof of the building. Close to 20 commandos were a part of the daredevil operation.
The direct attack on the terrorists came after three fresh explosions were heard from the building in the wee hours of Friday.
Three Israelis were freed early Friday morning from the building. Incidentally, Nariman House is a Jewish community centre and is frequented by Israelis.
Oberoi-Trident sanitised, hostages rescued
After nearly 40 hours of intense gun battle, security forces finally met success as the DG-NSG announced that the Trident was fully cleared and sanitised on Friday and that most of the hostages have been saved from the Oberoi.
On Saturday the data released by Centre put the number of people saved from the hotel at 250.
Success came soon after the commandos gunned down two terrorists holed up at the five-star hotel, however not before there were 32 casualties in total, including that of the two militants.
Showing its resilient spirit, the hotel management announced that they would be reopening their properties to guests in four days' time.
As per the data released by the Centre on Saturday the number of security officials killed in the operations stands at 22.
Four top police officials, including Maharashtra Anti-Terror Squad (ATS) chief Hemant Karkare, were among the 22 policemen killed.
Two Indian Police Service (IPS) officers - Additional Police Commissioners Ashok Kamte and Sadanand Date - were killed in separate gun battles with terrorists following a series of attacks in India 's financial capital, the officials said.
Mumbai Police 'encounter specialist' Vijay Salaskar was also shot dead in another gun battle.
One NSG commando Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan and havaldar Gajendra Singh also died in the gun battle at the Taj on Friday.
First Published: Thursday, November 27, 2008, 00:00