Government commandos in the Indian financial hub of Mumbai were still battling to wrest control of buildings and hotels seized by teams of gunmen in bloody attacks on Wednesday.
Indian sharpshooters opened fire early Friday at the site of a besieged Jewish center in Mumbai. Suspected militants were believed to be holed up — possibly with hostages — inside the headquarters of the ultra-orthodox Jewish outreach group Chabad Lubavitch. Snipers in buildings opposite the center began shooting as a helicopter circled overhead.
Earlier, an Israeli embassy official had said at least 10 Israeli nationals were trapped in buildings or held hostage in Mumbai.
At least 119 people had been killed and 288 wounded in a series of attacks that began Wednesday evening when the gunmen stormed at least 10 sites frequented by Western tourists and wealthy Indians — including the Jewish center, two luxury hotels, a popular restaurant, a train station, hospitals and a police station that controls security in the sector where the attacks were carried out.
'Still Not Under Control'
Officials said Thursday that the death toll from the attacks could rise.
"The situation is still not under control and we are trying to flush out any more terrorists hiding inside the two hotels," said Vilasrao Deshmukh, chief minister of Maharashtra state where Mumbai is located.
The Maharashtra state home ministry said dozens of hostages had been freed from the Trident-Oberoi hotel and dozens more were still trapped inside. More than 400 people were brought out of the Taj Mahal hotel, and army forces were still scouring the building for survivors Friday morning.
Late Thursday night, authorities said they had killed three gunmen at the Taj and were sweeping the Oberoi in search of hostages and trapped people. It remained unclear just how many people had been taken hostage, how many were hiding inside the hotels and how many dead still lay uncounted.
Fears Of Renewed Tension With Pakistan
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh blamed militant groups based in neighboring countries, usually meaning Pakistan, raising fears of renewed tension between the nuclear-armed rivals.
"It is evident that the group which carried out these attacks, based outside the country, had come with single-minded determination to create havoc in the commercial capital of the country," he said in a televised address.
Pakistani authorities were quick to condemn the attacks, but Pakistan's defense minister warned Singh not to accuse Pakistan of links to the attacks.
"This will destroy all the goodwill we created together after years of bitterness," he told The Associated Press. "I will say in very categoric terms that Pakistan is not involved in these gory incidents."
On Thursday, the U.S. State Department warned U.S. citizens not to travel to Mumbai for 48 to 72 hours.
From NPR and wire reports.