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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
CNN International Simulcast: Ongoing Operations in Mumbai
Aired November 27, 2008 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was terrible to wait outside; it seemed like a lifetime, before we could see anything. All that we were hearing was gunshots and bomb blasts. And it makes me feel angry at these senseless killings and very, very helpless.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Shock, confusion, and anger. Emotions run high in India as it searches for answers and loved ones. Authorities scramble to find out who was behind breathtaking, coordinated attacks in Mumbai; attacks which are having reverberations around the globe.
BECKY ANDERSON: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Becky Anderson in London, and this is our special coverage of the attacks in Mumbai.
The attackers dropped off by a mother ship, executing terror plans months in the making. We're learning more about the Mumbai attacks, but the crisis isn't yet over.
So, first, the very latest developments as we know them this hour: Indian commandos are still trying to end a siege of two hotels and a Jewish center a day after gunmen attacked at least seven targets in the city.
One gunman remains holed up in the Taj Mahal Hotel; two gunmen are inside the Oberoi Hotel. It's unclear how many hostages they have, but France says as many as 20 of its citizens are trapped inside the Oberoi.
CNN-IBN reports a loud explosion was heard near the Jewish center a few moments ago but we have no further information from there. Gunmen are believed to be holding a rabbi and other hostages.
India state media reports the killers planned the attacks months in advance and had set up control rooms inside the targeted hotels. They say the terrorists were dropped by a mother ship and then traveled to Mumbai in rubber boats.
125 people were killed in the attacks. Some 300 or more are wounded.
Stay with us for 24-hour coverage on this developing story. CNN has correspondents, as you would imagine, spread out across south Mumbai, bringing us the very latest updates.
Andrew Stevens was right in the heart of the targeted area when the deadly attacks began. Mallika Kapur is in Mumbai and offers a unique perspective on the chaos that is gripping her city. And Sara Sidner brings us the very latest developments from outside the Taj Mahal Hotel.
So let's kick off this hour with Mallika Kapur who is there in the heart of the city and brings us the very latest -- Mallika.
MALLIKA KAPUR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Becky, it's been more than 24 hours and there is no sign of the situation coming under control here in Mumbai. The standoffs continue in all three places you mentioned, at the Taj, at the Oberoi and at the Jewish center as well. I'm right now -- I'm right outside the Oberoi Hotel and I just want to bring you up to date on what's happening here.
We know that two gunmen are still inside the Oberoi Hotel. And we know that members of the National Security Guard, the very elite commando squad in India, are inside the hotel, trying to engage with these gunmen. We know that about 39 to 40 people have been released over the last 24 hours from the Oberoi Hotel.
At the moment we don't know how many hostages the gunmen are holding up or how many employees or residents of the hotel are still up. It's a fluid situation. It's very much a situation that's alive, and the whole city waiting with bated breath to find out when the situation is going to be resolved.
ANDERSON: And people, this is a city of 20 million people. Imagine that, with gunmen in two hotels and at one Jewish center; still an ongoing situation. More than 24 hours as Mallika suggested, after it began.
Mallika, tonight, can you describe the atmosphere in the city?
KAPUR: There is an eerie calm in the city. Now, Mumbai is a very vibrant city, and as you mentioned, it's a city of 19 million people. There's always a buzz in the city. It really has a pulse.
But today we saw the streets were absolutely empty. It was quiet. People have been instructed by officials to stay indoors, to not take a chance and venture out and people are listening to the authorities.
Schools and colleges were closed. The stock market is not open for business. The restaurants were closed. Shops had their shutters down. So people quite nervous and not taking a chance and staying away.
It's now 3:30 a.m. And, again, Mumbai known for its nightlife. This is not normally a time you would see the streets absolutely deserted. But they are deserted. It's very quiet. It's very calm. But it's an uneasy, eerie calm hanging over the city, Becky.
ANDERSON: Some hours ago, Mallika, authorities promised that this crisis would be over by the -- and I think they described it, the end of play today. Now, you suggested it's 3:30 in the morning now, the following day, local time. Is there -- or what sort of expectations are there about a closing out of what is going on?
KAPUR: You know, Becky, we've heard this so many times before, the last 24 hours, when people hear this now, no one's taking it seriously. They want to believe that the matter will be resolved soon. But they have heard it before. We did hear from the police commissioner of Maharashtra yesterday who first came at the Taj, he said, yes, all hostages are out.
Two hours later he came back and said, well not hostages. Most of the hostages are out from there. So, they have heard this before, that the situation is either in control or will be in control. But, as we've just been talking about it, it's been more than 24 hours, and the standoffs are continuing at all three locations.
ANDERSON: Mallika Kapur is outside the Oberoi Hotel, where the situation is fluid at present. Mallika, we thank you for that.
Now, the situation in Mumbai can be chaotic at times. Reporters are doing their best to make sense of what is happening. Right now, a number of them are gathered outside the Taj Mahal Hotel.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Also the reports about most of the terrorists being captured or killed, and one particularly being -- one particularly being shot or injured in that process. These are the reports that we're hearing on the ground as well.
But we haven't heard any gunshots in the past one hour. We haven't heard any grenade blasts, no noises at all; very, very calm; eerily calm, actually. We are seeing some sort of activity at the entrance of the Taj Mahal Hotel behind me, but can't really tell what that means at this point of time. It's security personnel are going in and out from the hotel. But no real ambulances leaving, no gunshots sounds.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: The view on the ground there from both those hotels when gunmen are still holed up, fighting army commandos.
An Israeli rescue team is rushing to the city. Its mission? To help save those inside the headquarters of a Jewish outreach post. Andrew Stevens is outside that building right now, and he joins us by phone. What's the latest from there, Andrew?
ANDREW STEVENS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A little over an hour ago, Becky, two explosions were heard in this predominantly Muslim area where this Jewish center is established. It was described as hand grenades.
And talking to local people here, who have been watching this from where they can over the last 24 hours or so, I've been told that an unknown number of gunmen are in this Jewish center. And any attempt to get near the actual building is met by a fuselage of hand grenades. They are lobbing hand grenades at people who are trying to get close to it.
At the moment we have a standoff. As I've been standing here, we've been watching an elite group. Mallika spoke about the National Security Guard. They're known in this neighborhood as the Black Commandos, and the Black Commandos have been coming around this area. They are around this area. There is a command post set up that we can't get close to. And that is reasonably close to this actual Chabad House, which is a Jewish community center, Becky.
It's a little bit unclear exactly how many people are in the house at the moment. We've been told four people; the rabbi, his wife, and two Israeli guests. That's what we can tell you at the moment. It's a standoff there. Two grenades exploded about an hour ago. But at the moment, it's all quiet.
ANDERSON: All right and as you speak, Andrew, we are looking at pictures that came in to CNN Central a little earlier on today. These obviously those involved in covering this center, pictures as well coming to us earlier on today of the other situations, the other locations. I think we've explained: a cinema, a railway station, seven or eight locations that were identified by these attackers and attacked earlier on today.
Complete confusion, as you can see, during the daylight hours. And you can only imagine the sense of fear and trepidation during the evening hours when the light fades there in Mumbai.
Well, earlier Israel's foreign ministry commented on the situation at the Jewish center where Andrew was just reporting from and said exact details from there are hard to come by.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
ANDY DAVID, ISRAELI FOREIGN MINISTRY: We have information of Jewish house, the Chabad House. It's a place of gathering for Jews and Israelis who want to pray. We know that the rabbi and his wife and maybe a few others were taken hostages. We have a lot of concern for their lives. We don't know exactly what the situation there. It's very difficult to get accurate information.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
ANDERSON: That's the foreign ministry spokesman there in Israel.
U.S. President George W. Bush has already condemned the terrorist attacks and offered his condolences to families in Mumbai.
U.S. counter-terrorism and intelligence officials have gathered to review the situation and action they believed can be taken to address the attacks.
Meanwhile, according to a statement from White House Press Secretary Dana Perino quote --
"Teams have visited hospitals and hotels to locate and identify any injured U.S. citizens. U.S. officials will continue to cooperate and work together with Indian officials to focus on this ongoing situation."
We've got all the angles of the Mumbai attacks covered for you here in CNN International. Despite a claim of responsibility, there is a lot of doubt. We're going to look at who could be behind this horrifying string of coordinated attacks.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KAPIL SIBAL, INDIA SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY MINISTER: They had a well-thought-out plan. And they perhaps knew that certain key police officers were going to emerge. Even though they were wearing vests and protective headgear, they targeted them. Within a few minutes of their arrival, or a short time after their arrival, and a short time dead.
They came, there was a mother ship from which they were brought. They got some rubber boats, motorized rubber boats, and they came and docked. And they set up control rooms in the Taj and the Trident Oberoi. And they were actually managing the operations right from there.
So obviously this is something that has not been done, it has been planned over months. They have sophisticated weapons, they don't have AK-47s, they have MP-6.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: Just hours ago sporadic blasts and gunfire were rattling from the Taj Mahal and the Oberoi Hotels in Mumbai.
Indian Commandos have been in and out of both hotels trying to subdue the gunmen and free the hostages. It's not clear if the blasts were set off by the hostage takers or by soldiers going door to door on each floor of the hotels. And it's not clear either how many hostages there still are. But France at least says as many as 20 of its citizens are still inside one of the hotels.
We hear a lot about the Taj and the Oberoi Hotels, but they were not the only landmarks targeted. The gunmen hit several other locations frequented by tourists in Mumbai. They opened fire at the Cafe Leopold, a popular hang out for westerners, and you can see it there halfway between the two hotels.
To the north, gunmen also targeted a major landmark, the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, the Victorian building that houses one of the busiest railway stations in India. While authorities rushed to those scenes, the gunmen targeted the Cama Hospital and also a Jewish center.
Pakistan is urging India not to jump to conclusions over who might be responsible for the deadly Mumbai attacks. Pakistan's ambassador to the United States Husain Haqqani joins me now in London here for Thanksgiving. It has been a busy one. Manmohan Singh, the Indian prime minister, has said today that he believes those who carried out these multiple and simultaneous attacks across Mumbai over the past 24 hours had external linkages. Many people are suggesting that what he is suggesting is that Pakistan is involved.
HUSAIN HAQQANI, PAKISTANI AMBASSADOR TO U.S.: Pakistan and India are both victims of terrorist. As we saw these incidents, we were reminded of the terrorist attack on the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad not long ago. And when I spoke to President Zardari today, he said that each time he sees a terrorist victim, he's reminded of the pain that was inflicted on him when his wife became a victim of terrorism.
So I think that while Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is right in pointing to any linkages that the Indian intelligence may uncover of the terrorists I don't think that he is or should be pointing fingers at Pakistan.
ANDERSON: We're not suggesting he is at present. I'm just suggesting there are those who read into his words when he suggested there are external linkages. There are though militant Islamist groups operating in Pakistan and in the northwest area of India. And there are suggestions that those in the past have at least had affiliations with Pakistan. We know that, don't we?
HAQQANI: What is important to understand is that Pakistan's elected government, and this government was elected was elected on a platform of opposing terrorism, the leader of the party that now rules Pakistan was herself a victim of terrorism because of her strong stance against terrorism.
It's a new government and this government has in the few months that it has been in office has waged war against the terrorists. That the why I think the terrorists are actually hitting hard at Afghanistan, at Pakistan, at India and around the world. But that doesn't mean that the Pakistani government, or for that matter, the Pakistani nation, supports terrorists in any way. We do not.
ANDERSON: Do you accept that there are militant Islamist groups operating in Pakistan and on the borders with India?
HAQQANI: There are militant and terrorist groups that are operating all over the world. We all need to --
ANDERSON: Are there groups that are operating within Pakistan and on the boarders with --
HAQQANI: The last time I checked Pakistan is part of the world. So, yes, there are groups that operate in Pakistan and Afghanistan and in India. And only a cooperative effort by all the countries in the region will be able to stop these terrorists and militant groups from being able to conduct the kind of operations they have conducted.
ANDERSON: How concerned are you about a possible deterioration of Pakistan/India relations at this point? HAQQANI: I think that the terrorists are targeting the cordiality that has been -- that has started between India and Pakistan. So I think if India/Pakistan relations deteriorate as a result of these unfortunate incidents that would be serving the terrorists' objectives.
Pakistan and India need to work together. We are both victims of terrorism, and the closer we get together, the easier it will be for us to beat the terrorists who want to defeat the will of both nations.
ANDERSON: How do you improve relations, given there is an opportunity at least here, or a situation which may create a deterioration of relations? What do you do to improve relations at this point?
Let's not forget, there have been a number of wars fought between the two countries just over the last three decades. One wouldn't want another.
HAQQANI: Well, Pakistan and India both have leaders at the moment and today Pakistan's president spoke to the leader of the Congress Party, Mrs. Sonia Gandhi, assured that Pakistan's new elected leadership wants to work with the elected leadership of India.
Afghanistan, Pakistan and India are all democracies now and that is good news. Democracies don't go to war, that is the view of political scientists. As democracies, we need to collaborate, work together.
There are outstanding issues such as the status of Jammu and Kashmir over which we have disagreed in the past. But there is no disagreement greater than the will of our leaders and our people to work together, because after all, the greater enemy for India, for Pakistan, for Afghanistan and other countries in the region are poverty, disease and ignorance and we need to fight them together.
ANDERSON: You need to fight them. Are you optimistic or pessimistic about the future at this point?
HAQQANI: If I were not optimistic, I would not be spending the time and energy in building bridges. Everyone who is in Pakistan's government today wants to build bridges with all of Pakistan's neighbors and indeed the whole world.
ANDERSON: Thank you, sir.
HAQQANI: Pleasure talking to you.
ANDERSON: The Pakistani ambassador to the U.S. joining me here in London this evening.
Fear and uncertainty after the attacks in Mumbai. We're going to go to our Colleen McEdwards for a look at reaction on the blogs from all over the world.
Our special coverage of the Mumbai attacks continues. (BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We expected the bullets to start flying any moment, because we could hear people outside in the corridors. We could hear what sounded like people getting taken upstairs and explosions coming further away and they were throwing hand grenade off the windows.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
ANDERSON: 125 people dead, over 300 wounded, and the numbers continue to rise. That is the result of the multiple and coordinated attacks across Mumbai over the past 24 hours.
We do know there are gunmen holed up in two luxury hotels, still the possibility that there are hostages in those situations, and we know that there are hostages in a Jewish center in the south of the city.
Let's find out what's being said over the ether and how people around the world are reacting to this. Colleen McEdwards is at CNN Center in Atlanta with more on that. Colleen, what have you got?
COLLEEN MCEDWARDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Thanks. Becky, there are some amazing things on the blogs. Lots of reaction from all over on this story and you know one really compelling account came just a short time ago.
When I spoke on the phone with Arun Shanghag who's in Mumbai. You know, he grew up just a few blocks from that Taj Hotel. He took some amazing photos today that you can actually see on his blog. It's great stuff. And he told us how he felt when he saw that hotel burning.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ARUN SHANGHAG, MUMBAI BLOGGER: I went there the whole day, and I saw so much blood and I saw so much people and I saw so many of my friends being killed, one of my friend's brother being killed, actually; blood and everything. Nothing phased me, you know, I was calm and composed.
And then when I went up, my mother said, look, I'll walk with you to the terrorists. And we saw this whole dome, just like a huge bonfire in the sky there. I -- I just, you know, I -- I just could not take it.
MCEDWARDS: So for you, Arun, how has this attack in a sense changed Mumbai for you?
SHANGHAG: You know, I just don't know. I think I'm still in a state of shock sort of. I'm waiting until tomorrow. I'm still very cold today. I'm just like, I want to take a picture and I just want to, like, document this today. I think it has changed me. I hope it does not. I just hope we don't -- this doesn't change us long term. But even today, I went to the Taj in the evening, there are crowds of people. And everybody's hushed. Everybody's calm. There was no anger.
It was just, you know, sad in a way. And I was, wait a second, this is major tragedy. I was hoping people would burn a few buses, I don't know. Upturn a few cars and light them afire. I'm not saying do that, but you'd expect something like that.
MCEDWARDS: Some rage.
SHANGHAG: But just people are stunned. Yeah, there's no rage. And I'm worried, it's going to come out in a few days in some other form. That was kind of, you know, I mean, that sadness is there.
Wow, people are taking this internally, and I can -- you know, people in effect talking to them, you feel that they are really hurt but they are just kind of keeping it quiet.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MCEDWARDS: And you'll know lots more of Arun's thoughts on his blog and pictures as well. We've also heard from some more people who were right at the center of these attacks as they were unfolding. Listen to this --
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
YASMIN WONG, CNN EMPLOYEE: Even when it started, at the beginning I was asleep and you just sort of wake up to the sound of firecrackers. I basically heard consistent gunfire and grenades and smashing glass and all sorts of commotion.
MARK ABELL, WITNESS: The hotel shook with an immense blast. About three, four minutes later, there was another large blast; the whole building is shaking. I looked outside. I could see crowds running. It was chaos. Gunshots. And it looked all -- very, very nasty.
MANUELA TESTOLINI, WITNESS: We heard gunfire. Which at the time we didn't realize was gunfire. And my colleague actually saw someone running towards the glass doors of our restaurant. And he shot a gentleman just outside the doors, at which time we proceed to run.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MCEDWARDS: Lots of bloggers focusing on this as well. Here's what one from Bangladesh says, "The helplessness of those innocent victims keeps playing in my mind. Where are we heading, in the name of civilization?"
And Sonia Faleiro shared some thoughts that she's having now, and even before this happened. She said "I don't want my children to live here in this city, maybe in this country." And, you know, Becky, that's what you see a lot of on the blogs, a lot of emotion from people about where the city of Mumbai is headed, both before and after these attacks. People really likening it to the September 11th attacks on New York and the way people felt about their city after that; and also just a huge sadness.
It seems like almost everyone sort of knows someone who was either affected or hurt in this attack. So, lots of reaction out there.
ANDERSON: Fascinating stuff and a very different way of looking at the story. Thank you.
Colleen McEdwards there at CNN Center.
As we continue our special coverage of the Mumbai attacks, new details emerging of just how audacious the assaults were.
Stay with CNN.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They told me to hold your hands up, and said where are you from? Are there any British or Americans here? Show us your ID and people started getting out their business cards or ID cards or whatever. And my friend said, tell them you are Italian if they come up to you. So, I had my hands up, basically thinking I was in serious trouble.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BECKY ANDERSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You're watching CNN International's special coverage of the Mumbai attack. I'm Becky Anderson in London for you. Here is the very latest.
The attacks in Mumbai took enormous planning over months. That is how an Indian cabinet minister describes the scope of the attacks. He said the terrorists cased the targeted two hotels for months, even setting up control rooms inside the Taj and the Oberoi. He said a ship dropped them off in the waters just outside Mumbai and they took rubber inflatable boats to get to the city. One boat loaded with explosives was found near the Taj.
While the violence has died down, the crisis is not over by any means. Hostages apparently are inside the hotels and inside a Jewish center, where our sister network, CNN-IBN reported a loud explosion just a short time ago. Gunmen are said to be holed up inside the two hotels, one inside the Taj and two inside the Oberoi.
It is now has been more than 24 hours since terror gripped Mumbai. And Sara Sidner takes us from the ordeal from its sudden and horrific beginning Wednesday night.
SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: For more than 24 hours, Mumbai's business district has echoed the sound of explosions and gunfire. This is not the first time India's largest city is the target of terrorism, but it is different this time. It began late we'd evening with a series of coordinated attacks on several locations across Mumbai, a cafe popular with westerners, the main railroad station, a Jewish center, and a hospital. But the terrorists' prime targets were two prestigious hotels, the Taj Mahal and Oberoi, they singled out British and American citizens according to witnesses.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: See, we were walking up each flight of stairs and then he stopped us after two or three flights and told everyone to put their hands up. Where are you from? There are any British or Americans here? Show us your I.D. and all this.
SIDNER: Witnesses said the attackers were young, well armed with grenades and automatic weapons. Hotel guests and locals dived for cover and scrambled to escape. Mumbai police were outgunned.
Throughout the night, explosions and fire raged in the upper stories of the historic Taj Mahal. Hotel guests hiding in their rooms waiting for a chance to escape, trying to avoid becoming hostages. At day break, fire still raged at the Taj. And throughout Thursday, Indian Special Forces tightened their cordon around the hotels.
Guests at the Oberoi appeared briefly at windows in a silent plea for help. One man was fatally injured, after jumping from the fifth floor of the Taj.
Eventually, Indian commandos were deployed many hours after the siege began. They advanced, floor by floor, wary of explosive booby traps. Late Thursday afternoon, several hostages or guests were seen leaving the Oberoi many hours after the attacks began.
In this mixed city of Hindus and Muslims, feelings ran high in the evening, briefly forcing me out of the air.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I got to get out of here. Stop it!
SIDNER: Above all, there was a feel of shock. That such an audacious attack could be launched on India's commercial and banking hub.
VIJAY MALLYA, CHAIRMAN, KINGFISHER AIRLINES: This is India's 9/11. And, you know, as much as we never thought it could ever happen to us, it has actually happened.
SMITRI MUNDHRA, WITNESSED ATTACKS: You know, it's really sort of surreal to see all of this happening. Not only are these two, you know, the oldest and most historic hotels in Bombay, but, you know, they are places that my friends and I went all of the time. And I jogged by the Oberoi every morning.
SIDNER: Well after nightfall Thursday, as fires at the Taj were still being fought, a new blaze at the Oberoi erupted and still several of the terrorists were holding out possibly with hostages.
Sara Sidner, CNN, Mumbai, India.
ANDERSON: Well, the investigation has begun into who is behind the deadly attacks. CNN's Phil Black reports on some of the theories.
PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The Indian government clearly has its own ideas about who was responsible for this.
MANMOHAN SINGH, INDIAN PRIME MINISTER: It is evident that the group which carried out these attacks, inside the country have come to create havoc from the commercial capital of the country.
BLACK: Experts on India's security support the prime minister's theory. They believe the attackers were not exclusively homegrown.
SAJJAN GOHEL, TERRORISM EXPERT: What you're seeing is that these type of attacks are established. There's a network that's well- planned reconnaissance and logistics and financial support. It can only be from a group that is receiving international support, obviously with a domestic agenda.
BLACK: Analysts say Mumbai and westerners were specifically targeted because of the operation' ambitious goals.
GOHEL: This time it was a multipronged approach. It wasn't just at targeting Indians. They were aimed, but it wasn't the only one. They wanted to go after westerners as well. They wanted to create a lack of confidence for people traveling, hitting the tourist industry.
BLACK: One group has claimed responsibility, the little-known Deccan Mujahadin, but security experts don't believe it.
WILL GEDDES, SECURITY ANALYST: Deccan Mujahadin seem to be this amazing group that has come out of nowhere, that has been operating under the radar for all this time, yet able to mount such a sophisticated and well-coordinated attack.
BLACK: Analysts believe this is more likely the work of another well established outfit, the Lakshar a Taiba, who oppose Indian control in the disputed territory of Cash Meev Kashmir area. The Indians have blamed Lakshar for previous attacks like the 2001 assault on India's parliament which brought the two countries to the verge of war and the bombing of this Mumbai train, which killed more than 180 people in 2006. Terror strikes have become a regular part of life across India, but whoever did this, wanted a strong reaction. And they succeeded.
VIJAY DUTT, HINDUSTAN TIMES JOURNALIST: This attack in India has created a backlash that is equal to that of America after 9/11.
BLACK: The investigation may have only just begun, but already fingers are pointing across the border to militants in Pakistan.
Phil Black, CNN, London.
ANDERSON: We've been reporting this is fairly unique attack. Let's take a closer look at the tactics, the strategy, and possible goals of these attackers. I'm joined in the studio by Amit Chanda. He's the head of the Indian subcontinent practice with what's known as the risk advisory group. Who were they, what are their affiliations, and what is their cause? All unanswered questions at this point.
AMIT CHANDA, RISK ADVISORY GROUP: Well, we've been in 24 hours of breaking news, so, it's been very difficult to step back and look at this as a big-picture event, which is exactly how the people that planned this wanted it to be viewed. The reason it's been breaking news for 24 hours is because it was designed to be. It was a mass casualty, a spectacular attack against western targets in a south Asian city. So, for that reason alone it stands apart from most of the terrorism we've seen in India, at least over the past one year. That been carried out principally by the Indian Mujahadin, which is certainly one of the suspects of the violence, but is not considered to be the prime suspect. We can discuss.
ANDERSON: Yeah, there is a claim of responsibility by a group called the Deccan Mujahadin. Mostly, though, those in the know will say they're not convinced by that. So, who carried out these attacks?
CHANDA: That is the question that every security analyst in the western and indeed eastern world is looking into at the moment. If we look at it, there's, as I said, several prime suspects. Number one is Indian Mujahadin, principally because t they have been so active. But this attack differs from their past modus operandi in a number of ways, because it's targeting foreign individuals where they've been looked to sow unrest between the Indian individuals. Show, that somewhat rules them out. The next two groups sort of in roughly equal order of likelihood, the Lakshar a Taiba, which you mentioned earlier in your segment and the --
ANDERSON: They denied any responsibility. And they actually said they were sorry for the attack. But go on.
CHANDA: And Huji which is another one of the main Islamist groups in south Asia. The way the groups in south Asia operate is they are very fluid. They work together as and when they need to, and they form ad hoc coalitions. So this Deccan Mujahadin group, far from being an organized group, on the order of Lakshar a Taiba or Indian Mujahadin can be a group of individuals who were banded together for the purposes of one specific mission and to instill and spread the corps among them, they wanted to do one mission and I don't expect they had any expectation of coming back alive.
ANDERSON: What are the likely backers of the terrorists' organizations like you have suggested.
CHANDA: Certainly if you ask the Indian prime minister and anybody in the Indian intelligence community, the answer to that is quite clear. Although it's difficult to say in these circumstances, because information is so patchy, it's so inconsistent. And, let's face it, the knee-jerk reaction of Indian authorities is always to point the finger to unnamed external agents. So, the fact that they've done so in today's circumstances should not necessarily lead anyone to the conclusion that that is -- ANDERSON: There is a doctrine of the knee-jerk reaction, but you say that the finger-pointing is clear. And when you say that, and we hear the prime minister talking about external linkages, as he described them, you're talking about Pakistan, aren't you?
CHANDA: They are, yes.
ANDERSON: We talked about the tactics.
ANDERSON: They are different from those that we have seen before, and, therefore, we are calling this a fairly unique situation. They are also -- bear the haul marks of, but are not particularly similar to, or not exactly like, the sort of activities we've seen in the Iraqis and the Afghanistan's in the past, and I'm talking, therefore, about any associations that you might see with al Qaeda, for example.
CHANDA: And that was exactly where we go to next. So, once we've looked at the domestic likely suspects, we have to look at the broader picture. There's a context with south Asia, for example, that had the Marriott bombing in Islamabad. There's a background to this and certainly elements of this attack have al Qaeda hallmarks. Certainly the fact that it was such a mass-scale attack on an international stage. And it was innovative. We've never seen attacks carried out by marine amphibious craft before, that's new. And that very much has a distinctive signature of an al Qaeda operation.
ANDERSON: Is the likelihood we are talking about a group of men who are probably in their teens or 20s at this point, trained somewhere else, they've come in to Mumbai and they've created this havoc and it is ongoing as we know, one gunmen believed to be in one hotel and two in another hotel and possibly hostages being held in the Jewish center. We've talked about where we might go and surmise who we believe might be involved. We have no idea at this point about the causes, their causes.
CHANDA: Certainly the most immediate thing that comes to mind -- and it's only because of the timing -- it is something to do with Kashmir, because of the elections that are under way there at the moment and that, in fact, one of the callers mentioned it. I believe the individual named Imram who called from the Jewish center and Nariman house and mentioned the suffering in Kashmir. So you think it must have to do with the Kashmir elections. There's no major political development. No religious festival, nothing that would obviously stand out as a high-priority target.
ANDERSON: So, you were not looking at Mumbai as a particularly dangerous place to be on -- what was a Wednesday in November?
CHANDRA: Absolutely not. Let's face it, India faces a medium risk of terrorism at the best of times. Certainly nothing on this scale. Anybody in Bombay probably never imagined.
ANDERSON: Interesting. Thank you very much indeed, the risk advisory group counselor.
India has been rocked by terrorist attacks over the last several years according to the counterterrorism group in Washington, from January 2004 to March of last year, more than 3,600 people died in terror attacks in India. And you know that number is second to just Iraq in the same period.
We'll look at some of the attacks this year alone. On May 7th, synchronized bombs were detonated in Jaipur, a popular tourist destination, 67 people were killed in that attack. In late July, the western city of Islamabad was struck first at city streets and then in the hospital where they were rushed. 52 people died. And in September of 2008, bombs went off in New Delhi.
The latest from the Oberoi in just a moment. As we go to break, though, here on CNN international, some raw reactions from witnesses --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: One explosion practically -
ANDERSON: Mourning the dead, with the situation still very chaotic in the city of Mumbai, some families are already burying their loved ones. At least 125 people were killed in the terror attacks, one of them a police specialist whose grief-stricken family members laid him to rest just hours after he died.
I want to just get you an update on exactly what we believe to be happening at one of the locations in Mumbai, and south Mumbai, and the Oberoi Hotel where we have had correspondents over the past 24 hours or, so and bring you up to date on what is being reported by the AFP which is a wire service and attributing to comments to the aide of a Mumbai police commissioner saying that the commandos are still engaged in operations and looking for other people who might still be in and around and 39 people have been brought out and some of them are foreigners he said. We cannot yet say whether the hotel is 100% clear of terrorists. So this is being reported by the AFP wire, and these comments are coming from one of the spokespeople for the police commissioners. So that is the very latest. We are trying to keep you up-to-date and it is a fluid situation, and you can see there are some locations across the city where we believe there may be activity and certainly at the Taj Mahal and the Oberoi and indeed at the Jewish centre. We will return to the coverage of the Mumbai attacks in a moment, but first, let's look at some of the other news we are following on CNN.
Protesters in Bangkok are continuing trying to force out the government in Thailand and now the embattled prime minister has declared a state of emergency at Bangkok's two main airports and both occupied by anti-government protesters. Hugh Riminton reports from the Thailand capital.
HUGH RIMINTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There are many events going on at Mumbai, but it is a national crisis just the same and one that is affecting thousands and potentially tens of thousands of foreign travelers coming into Bangkok and Thailand. There has of course now an occupation taking place of 24 hours for the two main airports into Bangkok and the prime minister from the cabinet meeting not in Bangkok from the northern city said he could not fly into Bangkok and announced a state of emergency a short time ago. This is what he said.
SOMCHAI WONGSAWAT, THAILAND PRIME MINISTER (through translator): As government, I need to restore order. It is necessary to declare a state of emergency in some areas. In doing this, I have no intention of hurting members of the public. I want to facilitate the work of security officials to create understanding for people who have misunderstood the situation.
RIMINTON: Now he has given control of the sip situation to the metropolitan police of Bangkok and he can have backup from the air force and also the navy, but making no mention of the army whose head that the said that bay out of this might be for the prime minister to call the dissolution of parliament as they try to get the situation under control. To the left, there are still thousands of people occupying the main airport and they remain defiant and the leaders say don't be afraid, and we plan to keep our occupation in place.
ANDERSON: Well, further, over to France, a jetliner has crashed with seven people on board. There are no reports of survivors. The air bust a-23 belongs to New Zealand making a test flight when it went down.
At least one other important development on this day, the Iraqi parliament has voted to approve a new sweeping security pact with the United States. The deal includes a firm timetable for the withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Iraq by December the 31st, 2011. The assembly was forced to vote on it Wednesday, but due to last minute negotiates between Shiites and Sunni factions. As you know CNN is covering the attacks in Mumbai from every angle. Details are continuing to come in to CNN center. Hitting the headlines in newspapers around the globe.
You are watching CNN live from London. Stay with us.
ANDERSON: Well, you are watching CNN's national live from London, I'm Becky Anderson with you from the world watching the events unfold in Mumbai. The attacks are making headlines across the globe. Let's get a look at some of them. Starting with the international herald tribune for you and on the front page, you can see the Indian soldiers in position near Mumbai's Oberoi hotel. Looking at the prime minister's claims that the attackers come from outside of his country. That is a thinly veiled accusation that Pakistan was involved.
Let's turn to Germany's newspaper for you. Tonight, the headline for you for Friday reads Indian troops storm luxury hotel. That picture is showing the efforts to control the smoke pouring from the dome of Mumbai's Taj Mahal. The French newspaper for Friday morning concentrates on the Mumbai residents and tourists caught up in the attacks. The front page shows a group of people huddling around the wall as chaos reigns around them. And Bombay, le carnage des terrorist Islamists it reads. We will have more of a complete report from the attacks of Mumbai coming at you after this short break.
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