At Least 78 Dead In Terrorist Attacks In Mumbai

Terrorists launched coordinated attacks in India's financial center of Mumbai on Wednesday, killing at least 78 and wounding hundreds at a train station, luxury hotels and a restaurant popular with Western tourists and wealthy Indians.

Johnny Joseph, chief secretary for Maharashtra state, said 200 people were injured, and other officers said the death toll is certain to rise.

P.D. Ghadge, a police officer at Mumbai's central control room, told Reuters, "We have shot dead four terrorists and managed to arrest nine suspected terrorists." Local media reported that a group calling itself the Deccan Mujahideen had claimed responsibility for the attacks in e-mails to several media outlets.

Hours later, gunfire and explosions could still be heard at the Taj Mahal Hotel, where smoke and flames were coming from the building. Authorities believed from seven to 15 foreigners were being held hostage inside the hotel. Other hostages were being held at the Oberoi, but Anees Ahmed, a top state official, said it was not known if they were foreigners or Indians.

The U.S. State Department issued a release condemning the attacks. The release said U.S. authorities are not aware of any American casualties so far.

Sajjad Karim told Britain's Press Association news agency that he and several other lawmakers were barricaded inside the Taj Mahal Hotel.

"I was in the lobby of the hotel when gunmen came in and people started running," he told the Press Association by phone from the basement of the hotel.

"A gunman just stood there spraying bullets around, right next to me. I managed to turn away and I ran into the hotel kitchen," he said.

Karim was part of a delegation of European lawmakers visiting Mumbai ahead of a forthcoming EU-India summit.

The motive for the attacks was not immediately clear, but Mumbai has frequently been targeted in terrorist attacks, including a series of blasts in July 2007 that killed 187 people.

"It was really scary. It was like the sound of loud crackers, not one but several; we just ran out of there," said Janice Sequeira, a tourist who had been at a restaurant in the Taj Mahal Hotel.

From NPR and wire reports

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