Troops confront Mumbai attackers
Indian security forces have been exchanging fire with gunmen holding dozens of hostages in two luxury hotels in the Indian city of Mumbai (Bombay).
Troops surrounded the premises shortly after armed men carried out a series of co-ordinated attacks across the city, killing 101 people and injuring 287.
The hotels were among several locations in the main tourist and business district targeted late on Wednesday.
Police say four suspected terrorists have been killed and nine arrested.
The situation is still volatile in two of the most high-profile targets of Wednesday’s attacks – the Taj Mahal Palace and Oberoi Trident hotels, where armed men are believed to be holding about 40 hostages.
There are reports of intermittent exchange of fire between security forces and the assailants barricaded inside both hotels.
Correspondents say security personnel have so far not stormed the premises perhaps for fear of endangering the lives of hostages, some of whom could be Westerners.
The city’s main commuter train station, a hospital, and a restaurant popular with tourists were among at least seven locations caught up in the violence on Wednesday.
Assaillants used grenades and automatic weapons. Police say the dead include six foreigners, 14 police officers and 81 Indian nationals.
Eyewitness reports suggest the attackers singled out British and American passport holders staying at the hotels.
If the reports are true, our security correspondent Frank Gardner says it implies an Islamist motive – attacks inspired or co-ordinated by al-Qaeda.
A claim of responsibility has been made by a previously unknown group calling itself the Deccan Mujahideen. Our correspondent says it could be a hoax or assumed name for another group.
In other developments:
� Fire crews evacuated people from the upper floors of the Taj Mahal Palace, where a grenade attack caused a blaze
� Israel says it is concerned for the safety of its citizens in Mumbai, as a rabbi and his family are feared captured by gunmen
� The head of Mumbai’s anti-terrorism unit and two other senior officers are among those killed, officials say
� The White House held a meeting of top intelligence and counter-terrorism officials, and pledges to help the Indian government
� India’s Bombay Stock Exchange and National Stock Exchange markets are closed, as the authorities urge local people to stay at home
� There are unconfirmed reports that five gunmen have taken hostages in an office block in the financial district of Mumbai.
See detailed map of the area
Gunmen opened fire at about 2300 local time (1730 GMT) on Wednesday at the sites in southern Mumbai.
Local TV footage with commentary by the BBC’s Sanjeev Srivastava
“The terrorists have used automatic weapons and in some places grenades have been lobbed,” said AN Roy, police commissioner of Maharashtra state.
Local TV images showed blood-splattered streets, and bodies being taken into ambulances.
One eyewitness told the BBC he had seen a gunman opening fire in the Taj Mahal’s lobby.
“We all moved through the lobby in the opposite direction and another gunman then appeared towards where we were moving and he started firing immediately in our direction.”
One British tourist said she spent six hours barricaded in the Oberoi hotel.
“There were about 20 or 30 people in each room. The doors were locked very quickly, the lights turned off, and everybody just lay very still on the floor,” she said.
There has been a wave of bombings in Indian cities in recent months which has left scores of people dead.
Most of the attacks have been blamed on Muslim militants, although police have also arrested suspected Hindu extremists.
The BBC’s Sanjeev Srivastava says the timing and symbolism of the latest attacks could not have been worse.
By choosing to target the richest district of India’s financial capital in such a brazen and effective manner, he says those behind the attacks have perhaps dealt the severest blow to date to the morale and self esteem of the Indian authorities.
The attacks have come amidst elections in several Indian states and exposes the governing coalition to the charge that it has failed to combat terror, our correspondent says