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Mumbai's Attacked Hotels Reopen

Two luxury hotels attacked by militants during a three-day siege in India's financial hub, Mumbai, have reopened. Their reopening is being seen as a symbol of the city's determination to return to business as usual.

Staff, guests, dignitaries and religious leaders joined in a multi-faith prayer ceremony as Trident Hotel in Mumbai opened its doors to guests on a somber note Sunday.

At the nearby Taj Mahal hotel, one of the city's landmarks, nearly 1,000 guests attended a reception hosted to mark the reopening of its modern Tower wing.

The Taj and Trident-Oberoi hotels were stormed late last month by heavily armed Islamic militants, who struck at several targets in the city killing at least 170 people. The hotels witnessed fierce battles between gunmen and police that lasted nearly 60 hours. Scores of guests and staff died or were injured in the assault.

All signs of the shots fired, grenades lobbed and bloodshed have been wiped from the hotels.

Trident's president, Rattan Keswani, says no one has forgotten the tragedy, but everyone has vowed to carry on.

"Yes, there is grief, there is definitely a huge amount of sadness in everybody's mind because of colleagues and guests that we lost," said Keswani. "But since those days and the days after that, they have been only been committing their 100 percent to whatever the needs are."

Top executives of the two hotels say the reopening of the hotels less than a month after they were attacked marks an affirmation of the values of courage, and resilience of India's financial hub.

So far, only the less damaged sections of the hotels have been opened. It will take several months to reopen the Oberoi Hotel, and the popular heritage section of the Taj hotel, which has hosted many dignitaries since it opened over a century ago.

Vice President at the Taj Mahal R.K. Krishna Kumar spoke of the trauma of what happened.
"When I went there, there were pools of blood on the floor. It was quite heartbreaking," said Kumar.

Security has been tightened at the hotels, there is a heavy presence of armed police and sniffer dogs outside. Inside guards are putting baggage through X-ray scanners and guests are being frisked.

But hotel authorities say requests for room reservations and restaurant bookings are pouring in. They come from customers have vowed to stay or dine at the hotels to show their solidarity.

"It is not just about coming and eating here, but just to show that we are not going to be cowed down, we are not going to give in to people like this, life will continue as normal for us," said a guest.

Last month's terror attacks in Mumbai are viewed as the most audacious to hit India, which has suffered scores of militant strikes in the past two decades.