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Israel says 10 to 15 Israelis Held Hostage in Mumbai Attacks


Israeli officials say gunmen in Mumbai are holding at least 10 Israelis hostage at a Jewish center.

Indian commandos were dropped by helicopter Friday to try and free hostages and clear the center, known as Chabad House, of militants. Gunfire and explosions were heard at the building late Thursday and into today.

An orthodox Jewish group, Chabad Lubavitch, that runs the center says a rabbi and his wife are among those being held hostage by gunmen who seized the building late Wednesday.

A female cook employed by the center escaped from the building Thursday morning with the rabbi's two-year-old son. The boy was unharmed, but his clothes were soaked with blood, apparently from victims inside.

The cook says she saw several people lying "unconscious" in the center as she fled.

Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni condemned the Mumbai attacks and said Israel will help India in any way that it can.

The Jewish center contains a synagogue and kosher cafeteria primarily used by Israelis and other Jewish visitors to Mumbai.

A Chabad spokesman in New York, Rabbi Zalman Shmotkin, says the men who attacked the Jewish center had initially seized a police vehicle, which he says enabled them to approach the building.

A local resident, Sanjay Kokate, says the gunmen opened fire into a nearby building, killing several people.

Israeli officials say several other Israelis were held the hostage at Mumbai's Oberoi Hotel.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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