The State Department says two Americans have been confirmed killed and
two others wounded in the Mumbai terrorist attacks and that additional
U.S. citizens were still at risk in the Indian financial hub. Secretary
of State Condoleezza Rice is engaged in diplomatic outreach on the
attacks. VOA's David Gollust reports from the State Department.
State Department is confirming that two Americans are among the dead
and two others have been wounded in what are described here as
"horrendous" acts of terrorism in Mumbai.
But officials suggest
the toll could be higher, saying that U.S. citizens were "at risk" at
two venues where Indian security operations were still ongoing Friday at the waterfront Taj Mahal Hotel and a Jewish community center.
State Department did not identify those known dead, but officials did
not contest the announcement from a meditation group in Virginia that
two of its members - Alan Scherr and his daughter Naomi - had been
killed at the Oberoi hotel.
In a talk with reporters, State
Department acting spokesman Gordon Duguid said the Mubai attacks have
prompted a flurry of U.S. diplomatic activity, with both President Bush
and Secretary of State Rice telephoning Indian leaders to offer
condolences and U.S. assistance in the investigation.
spokesman said Rice spoke Thursday with, among others, British Foreign
Secrertary David Miliband and Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari.
Indian officials have suggested neighboring countries and implicitly
Pakistan might have been involved in the attacks in some way, though
Pakistan denies this.
Spokesman Duguid said the United States
has no information on who the Mumbai attackers were and what their
motives may have been. He said Rice called President Zardari to discuss
the situation in general terms.
"She's calling the Pakistanis
simply because she wants to discuss what's happening very near
Pakistan's border," he said. "You understand the tensions that have
existed in the region, after the [New Delhi] parliamentary attacks of a
few years back, 2001 I believe it was. There were very worrying
tensions in the region. She was calling the president of Pakistan to
get his read on how those tensions might be affected."
noted that India and Pakistan have already said they intend to
cooperate in the investigation of the Mumbai events, and said the
United States has always worked for a lessening of tensions between the
two South Asian powers.
He said Secretary Rice went to the Camp
David retreat to brief President Bush on the situation Friday morning,
and has also had two telephone conversations on the attacks with
President-elect Barack Obama.
The State Department has sent
staff members from its embassy in New Delhi and consulates in Chennai
and Kolkata to reinforce the sea-side U.S. Mumbai consulate, which
U.S. diplomats have been deployed to Mumbai
hospitals and the terrorist attack venues to assist Americans in
distress. The State Department is advising U.S. citizens to defer
travel to Mumbai for the time being.