India marks the tenth anniversary on Monday of the Mumbai terror attacks that left 166 people dead and hundreds more injured. On 26 November, 2008 terrorists unleashed a wave of violence across India's financial capital that lasted three days and played out on TV news channels around the world.
The ten attackers — who were armed with AK-47 assault rifles and hand grenades — belonged to Pakistan-based militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT). They struck several targets in a series of coordinated attacks, including luxury hotels, the city's main railway station, a restaurant popular with tourists, a Jewish centre and a hospital.
The Hotel Taj Mahal Palace and Tower
The iconic hotel was the epicentre of the attack, after four terrorists laid siege to the hotel and fired indiscriminately inside restaurants and conference rooms, and took several guests — both national and international hostage for at least 48 hours.
According to reports, 31 people died in the siege that lasted over 60 hours. The victims included guests and hotel staff. The terrorists also detonated explosives and set parts of the building — including its famous dome — on fire. The dramatic scenes were beamed live on television as Indian commandos battled the heavily armed gunmen and guests tried to escape out of windows using bed sheets.
India's security forces only retook control of the hotel on the morning of 29 November.
The Oberoi-Trident hotel
Another opulent location that the terrorists attacked was the Oberoi-Trident hotel on the sea-facing promenade of Marine Drive in the city. A report by The Indian Express said, "Being much larger than Taj Mahal hotel in terms of spatial capacity, the rescue operation at the Oberoi-Trident was extremely slow.
"The two hotels being interconnected, consist of 800 rooms between them. An approximate larger number of hostages were under siege here than at the Taj."
More than 30 people also died at the Oberoi and Trident hotels in a 42-hour siege involving shootings, explosions, and taking foreign guests hostage. Reportedly, foreign nationals were the prime target of the attack on the hotel.
Six hostages were killed at Nariman House, a Jewish cultural and religious centre. The victims included Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and his pregnant wife Rivka, while their two-year-old son Moshe, escaped with the help of his nanny Sandra Samuel. On Monday, the first phase of a memorial dedicated to the victims of the attack will be inaugurated at the Nariman House in south Mumbai's Colaba area. Samuel laments that the 'scars' of Chabad House have not been wiped out even 10 years later.
Samuel and Moshe had visited the city in January, after which she returned in May. According to reports, she felt the situation was "terrible". "They have kept the fourth and fifth floor same and on the third floor they have broken everything and made (it) into one big open space. The pillar and everything has bullet marks. It is very terrible for me. It broke me, it shook me," Samuel said.
The Nariman House, which houses an outreach centre of the Jewish Chabad movement, was one of the places which were attacked. The siege on the building ended when NSG commandos stormed the premises and killed the two terrorists who had taken the residents hostage.
The first phase of the memorial, which will be inaugurated on Monday, will comprise a plaque on the roof of the building inscribed with the names of those who died in the 26/11 attack, Rabbi Israel Kozlovsky said on Sunday. Signifying a new chapter of peace and a beacon of light, the building itself would be called the Nariman Light House, he informed.
CST station and Leopold Cafe
At least 50 people died in the attack on the Chhattrapati Shivaji Terminus in Fort. Two terrorists — one of whom was Ajmal Kasab, the sole surviving gunman caught by security forces — entered the crowded station around 9.30 pm and started firing indiscriminately. Reportedly, the attack on CST was the first target of the night. The attack lasted for just above an hour.
A popular choice of foreign nationals, the Leopold Cafe was the third target of the terrorists. At least 10 people were killed in the attack on the cafe. When the cafe opened its doors a month later, the owners decided to retain its bullet-riddled walls and mirrors. These became a symbol of the 'spirit' of the city from that night.
The nurses in the Fort-based Cama and Albless hospital were hailed for their presence of mind which helped save the lives of the patients and hotel staff. Reportedly, the staff put off all the lights in the premises which resulted in the terrorists getting disoriented. Ajmal Kasab was one of the two who attacked the hospital also.
A report by The Hindu said, "The darkness misled Kasab and his accomplice who could not understand that it was a hospital. The children and women's hospital had many pregnant women admitted at that time."
With inputs from agencies
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Updated Date: Nov 26, 2018 11:27:04 IST