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More Foreign Guests in Besieged Hotels Freed


Indian military commandos are attempting to neutralize remaining terrorists at three locations in Mumbai and free remaining hostages and hotel guests there. About 140 people have been killed and more than 300 injured in shootings, explosions and fires since the attacks began late Wednesday. Authorities say at least seven suspected terrorists have been killed and several more arrested. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman is in our South Asia bureau in New Delhi with the latest.

A top Indian Army official says the final push to free hostages and guests at three locations in Mumbai will not be rushed.

Army vice chief Major General Noble Thamburaj spoke to reporters outside the Taj Palace Hotel.

"I have specially told the commandos taking part not to be under any pressure from the media or the citizens because at this stage, when were are at the final stages of operations before we can wrap it up, we don't want to be in a hurry [and] suffer any casualties," said Thamburaj.

The general says at least one terrorist who is possibly still holding two or more hostages remains inside the Taj. Meanwhile, commandos continue to free guests at the Trident Oberoi. At that luxury hotel an unknown number of foreign hostages are still believed held by heavily armed insurgents. Some guests were freed from their rooms by commandos after more than 36 hours.

After dawn Friday, two helicopters dropped commandos onto the roof of a Jewish center at Nariman House. Diplomats say several foreign hostages may still be held there.

Although the attackers also hit railway stations, hospitals and a restaurant, the most deadly dramas have taken place at the two luxury hotels and the expatriate Jewish community center.

Gunfire, explosions and fires erupted repeatedly since Wednesday evening at the hotels.

India's science minister, Kapil Sibal, speaking on television, said it is obvious that the coordinated attacks were well planned and people were not targeted at random.

"They set up control rooms in the Taj and the Trident Oberoi [hotels]. And they were actually managing the operations right from there," said Sibal. "So, obviously… it's been planned over months."

A previously unknown group called Deccan Mujahideen has claimed responsibility for the attacks. Some officials and politicians contend the attackers, who they say were well-trained and well-armed, came from Pakistan by sea.

Residents of Mumbai are well acquainted with terror mayhem. Several hundred people died in serial bombings in 1993 stemming from Hindu-Muslim violence. In July 2006, attacks on suburban commuter trains killed 187 people and injured 800. But this latest assault is being called the most brazen in Indian history, striking landmarks and targeting not only Indians of all classes but foreign visitors, as well.

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