Mumbai attacks death toll rises to 195 as more bodies found
4 Israelis among scores freed from Trident-Oberoi hotel; Indian official: Death toll expected to rise further.
Indian officials said Saturday the death toll in the terrorist attacks on Mumbai has risen to 195 as more bodies have been discovered after commandos ended the siege on a luxury hotel.
Shantaram Jadhav, an official at Mumbai's disaster control office, said 195 people have been killed and 295 wounded.
Jadhav added that the death toll is likely to rise because "there are still bodies in our vans that are being brought into hospitals."
A two-day siege by terrorists at a Jewish outreach center in Mumbai run by the Orthodox Chabad movement ended in tragedy Friday evening when it was confirmed that six hostages were found dead inside.
Commandos also cleared the Trident-Oberoi hotel and freed 143 hostages, among them four Israelis and other foreign tourists and businessmen who emerged with harrowing stories of the bloodshed inside. Two gunmen were killed.
At the luxury Taj hotel in the city, where gunbattles raged on well into Friday night, Indian commandos finally killed the last remaining gunmen on Saturday, ending the 60-hour rampage through India's financial capital by suspected Islamic militants.
According to the Foreign Ministry, four Israelis known to have been in the city have yet to make contact with officials. There is no information on their well-being.
One foreign member of the Oberoi hotel staff left holding a baby in his arms, others wept as police showed them photographs of dead relatives for identification.
As anger mounted, India blamed "elements" from Pakistan for the coordinated assault on its financial capital, which seemed designed to scare off foreign executives and tourists. Pakistan said the two countries faced a common enemy. Urging New Delhi not to play politics, it agreed to send its spy chief to share intelligence on the suicide attacks.
"According to preliminary information, some elements in Pakistan are responsible for Mumbai terror attacks," Pranab Mukherjee told reporters in the western city of Jodhpur.
"Proof cannot be disclosed at this time," he said, adding that Pakistan had assured New Delhi it would not allow its territory to be used for attacks against India. India has long accused Islamabad of allowing militant Muslim groups, particularly those fighting in the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir, to train and take shelter in Pakistan. Mukherjee's carefully phrased comments appeared to indicate he was accusing Pakistan-based groups of staging the attack, and not Pakistan itself.
Islamabad has long denied those accusations.
Earlier Friday, Pakistan's Defense Minister Ahmed Mukhtar, in Islamabad, rejected any involvement by his country in the attacks: "I will say in very categoric terms that Pakistan is not involved in these gory incidents."
The British government, meanwhile, was investigating whether some of the attackers could be British citizens with links to Pakistan or the disputed Himalayan territory of Kashmir, a British security official told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of his work.
The gunmen were well-prepared, apparently scouting some targets ahead of time and carrying large bags of almonds to keep up their energy.
"It's obvious they were trained somewhere ... Not everyone can handle the AK series of weapons or throw grenades like that," an unidentified member of India's Marine Commando unit told reporters, his face wrapped in a black mask. He said the men were very determined and remorseless and ready for a long siege. One backpack they found had 400 rounds of ammunition inside.
He said the Taj was filled with terrified civilians, making it very difficult for the commandos to fire on the gunmen.
"To try and avoid civilian casualties we had to be so much more careful," he said, adding that hotel was a grim sight. Bodies were strewn all over the place, and there was blood everywhere.
A U.S. investigative team was heading to Mumbai, a State Department official said Thursday evening, speaking on condition of anonymity because the U.S. and Indian governments were still working out final details.
India has been shaken repeatedly by terror attacks blamed on Muslim militants in recent years, but most were bombings striking crowded places: markets, street corners, parks. Mumbai - one of the most populated cities in the world with some 18 million people - was hit by a series of bombings in July 2006 that killed 187 people.
These attacks were more sophisticated - and more brazen.
They began at about 9:20 P.M. Wednesday, with shooters spraying gunfire across the Chhatrapati Shivaji railroad station, one of the world's busiest terminals.
For the next two hours, there was an attack roughly every 15 minutes - the Jewish center, a tourist restaurant, one hotel, then another, and two attacks on hospitals. There were 10 targets in all.