Indian army and paramilitary forces are conducting operations in two luxury hotels in the Indian financial capital Mumbai, to rescue hostages taken earlier by heavily armed gunmen.

Security officials say at least 101 people were killed in coordinated attacks late Wednesday by groups of gunmen on at least 10 locations popular with foreigners and business people, including hotels and train stations.  Authorities say gunmen also stormed a building belonging to a Jewish group, Chabad house.

Among those reported killed were Mumbai's anti-terror chief, Hemant Karkare, and at least 11 policeman.  As many as 287 people have been wounded.

The gunmen are believed to be holding an unknown number of hostages, including foreigners, at two luxury hotels - The Taj Mahal Palace and Towers and the Oberoi-Trident.  Indian military commandos moved in early Thursday to confront the attackers.

The exact motive for the attacks was not immediately clear.  Local media report a previously unknown militant group, called the Deccan Mujahideen, has claimed responsibility.

India's Cabinet is holding an emergency meeting to discuss the situation.

The flames that earlier billowed from the Taj Mahal hotel appear to have been brought under control, but witnesses say the landmark has suffered major damage.

Police also say four gunmen have been killed and nine arrested, but it is not clear where these encounters occurred.

A British man who escaped from one of the hotels, the Rakesh Patel, told local television that attackers targeted foreigners, specifically Americans and Britons.

Islamic militants have been blamed for past bombing attacks.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said his government will provide any and all support to the Maharashtra state government in dealing with the situation.  Indian President Pratibha Patil, who is currently in Vietnam, said those responsible for the attack have no regard for human life.