For the last 24 hours Indian forces have battled heavily armed Islamic terrorists in Mumbai (Bombay), India. Over 100 people have been slain (127 deaths at last count) in co-ordinated attacks and bomb blasts, and over 300 reported injured. Among those killed are 9 policemen including Hemant Karkare, chief of the police anti-terrorist squad, and six foreigners including one Australian, a Briton, an Italian and a Japanese national. Ten Israelis were also held hostage in a Jewish centre.
Messages from a previously unknown group calling themselves the "Deccan Mujihadeen" claim responsibility. Upwards of 25 men, heavily armed with assault rifles and hand grenades, carried out the attacks. Battles have been raging through hotels and tourist areas as Indian commandoes fought to free dozen of hostages.
At least seven militants were killed and nine have been taken into custody as responding Indian forces enter a mop-up phase. US president-elect Barack Obama has condemned the attacks and the FBI has sent a team of forensic bomb experts. Several of the suspects are members of Pakistan-based group Lashkar-e-Taiba, who are known to operate in the contentious Kashmir region. Pakistan, condemning the assault, promised full cooperation.
The attacks were apparently planned to cause maximum damage to Westerners, who are difficult targets in their home countries. Another possible goal was to destabilize the region and stifle investment in the blooming Indian economy.
Reportedly, global intelligence services were buzzing about Black Friday prior to these attacks but failed to glean specifics that may have pre-empted this horrific tragedy.
Mumbai has been a wealthy city and a popular travel destination, since the Dutch and British East India companies established mercantile empires there at the zenith of European colonial power. Mumbai is home to 18 million people and the Bollywood film industry.
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