At least five Israeli hostages seized by Islamic militants were recovered Friday from a Jewish center in Mumbai after it was stormed by Indian commandos, an Israeli diplomat said.
Indian forces took aim at terrorists inside the Jewish Center
"Five bodies of hostages have been found," Eli Belotsercovsky, deputy chief of mission at the
Israeli embassy in New Delhi, told AFP. "They are Israeli nationals."
Mumbai police chief Hassan Ghafoor meanwhile told reporters that operations targeting terrorists and aiming to free those still trapped inside the Trident-Oberoi hotel had come to an end early Friday afternoon.
"The operation is complete. We have recovered 24 bodies today," Ghafoor said.
Indian commandos have killed two militants in the hotel and regained control of the premises after a long siege, the chief of the elite National Security Guards told reporters.
"The Oberoi Hotel and Trident are now under our control," JK Dutt said. "Oberoi and Trident have been evacuated; we have killed two terrorists."
Earlier, witnesses had reported seeing at least 90 people emerge from the hotel, including the infant son of the hotel’s Italian chef and flight attendants from Lufthansa and Air France.
Taj hotel guests to be freed by mid-day
People ducking for cover outside the Taj
Meanwhile, fighting continued at the Taj Hotel Friday morning as police battled to flush out at least one militant still holed up inside.
"It is confirmed that there is contact with one terrorist as of now. He is moving between two floors," Lieutenant General S. Thamburaj, who heads the southern command of the Indian army told reporters, adding that he believed the man still had hostages.
"We heard a sound of a lady and a gentleman so it is possible that this terrorist has got two or more hostages with him."
The locations of the attacks are close to one another
All remaining hostages, he said, would be evacuated by midday. More than 400 people were evacuated from the hotel through Thursday although police said more people could be hiding inside the building. The chief of one Indian commando unit reported afterward seeing at least 12 to 15 bodies in one room at the Taj.
In all, as many as seven terrorists were killed inside the Taj. Three attackers, including a Pakistani national accused of belonging to the Pakistan-based militant group Lashkar-e-Toiba, were captured in the building, the PTI news agency reported.
Death toll continues to rise
Many of the terrorists have already been killed
It has been more than 40 hours since the heavily armed terrorists carried out a wave of coordinated attacks in Mumbai after reaching the city's shores by boat late Wednesday.
The attackers opened indiscriminate fire and lobbed grenades at the five-star Taj and Oberoi-Trident, Mumbai's busiest railway station, hospitals, police headquarters, the Jewish center at Nariman House and a restaurant popular with foreigners.
Police in Mumbai said the death toll in the attacks had risen to 143 as more of the wounded succumbed to injuries and more bodies were recovered from the hotels. More than 320 people, including 22 foreigners, were wounded.
Eight foreigners were among those killed.
Governments and companies confirmed that a Canadian, an Italian, a German, a Japanese, an Australian and a Briton were among the victims. Fourteen police, including four senior officers, were also slain in clashes with the attackers.
A little-known militant organization called the Deccan Mujahideen claimed responsibility in e-mails sent to local news agencies.
Attacks were well coordinated
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, in a televised address to the nation, said the attacks were well planned and the outfit behind the attacks was based outside India.
Indians vented their anger against the terrorists
He said the strikes were intended to create panic by choosing high-profile targets and indiscriminately killing foreigners.
The Bombay Stock Exchange reopened Friday after being closed Thursday as the authorities struggled to cope with what has been described as India's worst terrorist attack. Malls, cinema halls and schools, however, remain shut for a second day Friday.