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Damaged Bridges Separate Georgians, Russians

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It's All Things Considered from NPR News. I'm Michele Norris. First this hour, the latest in the deadly attacks in Mumbai, India. Terrorists launched coordinated assaults with guns and grenades on multiple sites, that includes two luxury hotels and a restaurant popular with tourists. Witnesses say westerners were targeted, dozens are dead, hundreds are wounded. The attackers took hostages at the hotels.

NPR's South Asia correspondent, Philip Reeves, is in New Delhi, the Indian capital, and he joins us now. Philip, first of all, what can you tell us about how these attacks were launched?

PHILIP REEVES: Well, they came in with guns and with grenades, we're told, and one of the places they attacked was the landmark Taj Mahal Hotel. This is one of the most prestigious hotels in the world, really, a place where people from Bollywood would hold their parties, where extremely wealthy businessman from the international community and from India would gather.

They went in there. They also went into the Oberio Hotel, and they attacked a rail station. They - it's reported also attacked a place, Leopold's Cafe, which is a really popular place for tourists in particular in Bombay, also known as Mumbai, and so this was clearly a coordinated attack.

We right now know that the Taj Mahal is on fire because we could see the pictures of that on television. The roof is on fire. And we also know that hostages, up to 100 hostages, have been taken. It's a little unclear to us whether these hostages are in the Oberoi or in Taj Mahal or in both. We think both. That's what the police are saying. And so the situation, it's still developing as we speak.

NORRIS: As we saw the reports on the wires and also on television, we saw the pictures of at least one of the very ornate hotels there in Mumbai on fire. We're hearing that that fire is out now. Is the situation starting to get under control, contained in some of these hotels now?

REEVES: Well, it's not clear that it is contained. I mean, we've just had an official from Mumbai saying that the situation in the city is actually not totally under control. There are reports. It's hard to confirm them. Frankly, it's chaotic there at the moment of sporadic gunfire. So, I think this situation is still developing, and we will learn more as, you know, the hours pass.

It's (unintelligible) should be - one, you know, should remember that this is a city that had been attacked before. There was a terrible attack there a couple of years ago on the commuter trains in which several hundred people were killed, and in the 90's, the early '90's, there was a similarly-sized attack in terms of fatalities. But this one will go down as one of the worst and frankly - without wanting to justify it in any way at all - one of the most significant attacks because this is specifically against western targets.

NORRIS: There has been a claim of responsibility for the attacks. What more can you tell us about this group that's claimed responsibility?

REEVES: It's a group called the Deccan Mujahideen. It's never been heard of before. Deccan would suggest that it's from the south of India. Whether it's a serious claim or not we don't know.

There have been bombings in Indian cities this year. More than 100 people have been killed by those bombings. They were claimed by the Indian Mujahideen, another until now unknown - until this year unknown organization.

Whether there's a link there, whether these are genuine groups, it's impossible to say, but what we do know is that the focus of attention will now again be on the question of whether there are within India groups that are - Islamist groups that are carrying out attacks within India and whether those groups are actually homegrown.

We can, of course, expect some elements in the political landscape here to blame India's neighbors, notably Pakistan, also probably Bangladesh. But the fact remains that the issue now is going to be whether this is homegrown Islamist terrorism going on here.

NORRIS: That's NPR's Philip Reeves speaking to us from New Delhi. Philip, thanks very much.

REEVES: You're welcome.

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