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calendar   Saturday - November 29, 2008

Taj Mahal siege ends as total death toll rises to 195 .


Mumbai attacks: Taj Mahal siege ends as total death toll rises to 195
The siege at the Taj Mahal Hotel in the centre of Mumbai, formerly known as Bombay, has ended, bringing a halt to more than three days of terror in the city.

By Andrew Alderson, Chief Reporter
Last Updated: 12:41PM GMT 29 Nov 2008

At least two more terrorists were killed in the final stages of a battle with Indian commandos, following attacks throughout Mumbai.

The official death toll rose significantly today to 195, from 155 yesterday. At least 295 others have been injured in the assault on India’s economic capital.

The hotel siege was brought to a close today as security and political sources in the UK tried to play down suggestions that up to seven of the terrorists had strong British links, and that some of them were British-born men of Pakistani origin.

Sources in India are reported to have indicated that some of the men came from the north of England, including from Leeds, Hartlepool and Bradford.

Erika Mann, a European Union trade official, escaped from the Taj Mahal hotel through an underground passage.

She told the Times of India: “The attacks appear to have an European dimension.

“We’ve heard from journalists and other people we were with that English citizens were involved in the attacks.”

However, a spokesman for the Foreign Office in London said: “We have spoken to Indian authorities at a high level and they have said that there is no evidence that any of the terrorists either captured or dead are British.”

Gordon Brown also played down such a link after speaking to Manmohan Singh, the Indian Prime Minister. “At no point has the Prime Minister of India suggested to me that there is evidence at this stage of any terrorist of British origins, but obviously these are huge investigations that are being done and I think it will be premature to draw any conclusions at all,”, said Mr Brown.

“We remain steadfast and firm, standing with India and all other countries against any form of terrorist activity, and we will be vigilant in both helping the Indian authorities and in making sure that in every part of the world we support those who are fighting terrorism.”

Mr Brown said his thoughts were with those who had died, including British yachting tycoon Andreas Liveras. Mr Liveras, the 73-year-old Cypriot-born founder of a luxury yacht business, was pronounced dead on arrival at St George’s Hospital in the city.

A team of detectives from Scotland Yard is flying to Mumbai to help Indian authorities with the investigation. Officers are also meeting Britons returning on flights to London’s Heathrow Airport and handing out leaflets appealing for information.

More of those Britons caught up in the terror attack were due to fly home to London today.

Some in the Indian government have suggested that the attack could have be planned or launched from Pakistan. Pranab Mukherjee, the Indian External Affairs Minister, said: “According to preliminary information, some elements in Pakistan are responsible for Mumbai terror attacks.”

Pakistan has backtracked on a decision to send the chief of its spy agency to India to help with the Mumbai attack investigation, in a move likely to revive questions about who is in charge of the shadowy agency. The Prime Minister’s office in Islamabad said today that a representative of its Inter-Services

Intelligence (ISI) agency would now go to India instead of its director general.

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Posted by peiper   United Kingdom  on 11/29/2008 at 08:29 AM   
Filed Under: • RoPMATerrorists •  
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