Indian troops have reportedly stormed Mumbai's luxury Oberoi and Taj Mahal Palace hotels after coordinated terrorist attacks which left scores of people dead and Westerners taken hostage.
At least 78 people have been killed and more than 200 injured after terrorists armed with automatic weapons and hand grenades carried out the attacks across India's financial capital this morning.
Targets included the Oberoi and Taj hotels, the city's main Chhatrapati Shivaji railway station, the Cama hospital, and the Cafe Leopold, near the Taj Hotel and perhaps the most famous restaurant and hang-out for tourists in the city.
This morning the Taj Hotel was on fire and explosions had been heard in both the hotels. Hostages were believed to still be inside. Indian TV showed people being rescued out of windows at the Taj, which was built in 1903.
Acting Foreign Minister Simon Crean says at least two Australians have been injured in the attacks. DFAT spokesman Angus Mackenzie says there are no reports of Australians having been killed. Anyone concerned about friends or relatives can call DFAT on 1300 555 135.
"We have shot dead four terrorists and managed to arrest nine suspected terrorists," PD Ghadge, a police officer at Mumbai's central control room, said.
Trade delegation trapped
A trade delegation from New South Wales was among the guests staying at the Oberoi Hotel, which is also called the Trident.
The delegation of about 20 people includes representatives from several companies in New South Wales as well as some departmental staff.
A spokeswoman for the NSW Department of State and Regional Development says the leader of the delegation called the department when alarms were going off in the hotel and they were being asked to leave their rooms, but the department has not been able to contact him since.
An Australian in Mumbai, Bernard Carpenter, says it appears the city has come to a standstill.
"I believe the railway station is OK now, although 15 people were killed there," he said.
"The Taj Hotel, which is probably one of the most exclusive hotels in the world, these people still have control of that.
"I'm about 100 metres from there and I'm hearing bombs go off every hour, which is pretty frightening for someone who hasn't experienced that before."
An organisation calling itself the Deccan Mujahideen claimed responsibility for the attacks in an email sent to Indian media organisations.
One witness at the Taj hotel said the attackers had been searching for people with British and American passports.
"I guess they were after foreigners, because they were asking for British or American passports," said Rakesh Patel, a British witness who lives in Hong Kong and was staying at the Taj Mahal hotel on business. "They had bombs."
"They came from the restaurant and took us up the stairs," he told the NDTV news channel, smoke stains all over his face. "Young boys, maybe 20 years old, 25 years old. They had two guns."
Speaking to ABC2's News Breakfast program, former ABC reporter Savitri Choudhry said the attacks had plunged the city into chaos.
"There have already been three explosions inside the [Taj] hotel," she said.
"There have been reports that the commandos were trying to storm the hotel but ... they're not sure how many people they are up against.
"I was in the Taj Hotel myself earlier this evening. As soon as I heard about the blast I called [my friend]. She was holed up in her room ... she said she could hear them outside her door. She turned off her lights and television ... we've been trying to call her but there's been no response yet and that's been very disturbing.
"People have been calling out, some have even escaped. There are a large number of guests who have been cordoned off and are in a safe part of the hotel."
An Australian woman caught up in the attacks says the city is in chaos.
Chloe Papazahariakis told the Nine Network Mumbai is in total lockdown.
She says she has just moved to Mumbai to be married in four days and has about 20 friends with her for the wedding in the midst of the chaos.
Ms Papazahariakis says she and her friends have locked themselves inside the restaurant where her reception is to be held.
She says a nearby hospital has been bombed by terrorists.
She also says one man was shot dead in a gun battle between police and terrorists just 10 metres from the restaurant they are in.
Source : ABC
[tags : malaysiahotelnews hotels malaysia resorts news travel tourism travel vmy2008]