Editor’s Note: CNN's Andrew Stevens happened to be staying in one of the hotels attacked in Mumbai, India. Below is his report on AC360°. Click here for all AC360° reports on the attack on Mumbai.
Andrew Stevens | Bio
CNN International Anchor, World News Asia
Bombs, gunfire, chaos, carnage. Mumbai, popular with Americans and the commercial capital of India, erupted in a coordinated terror attack.
It began around 10:00 p.m. local time, armed with grenades, automatic weapons and explosives, an unknown number of extremists killed scores including the city's anti-terrorism chief and wounded hundreds.
At least ten sites were targeted including two luxury hotels, cafes, a hospital for women and children, a movie theater, and a train station. At the historic Taj Mahal hotel where a large plume of smoke rose hours after the attacks began, witnesses say gunmen were looking for U.S. and British citizens. An untold number of people have been taken hostage.
The army has moved into the hotel and across the city. Several terrorists have been killed or arrested. Others remain on the loose.
Both President Bush and President-Elect Barack Obama issued statements, each strongly condemning the attack. Who's behind this? Local reports say a group named the Deccan Mujahedeen claimed responsibility. Some officials say it bears all the hall marks of Al Qaeda. Mumbai is the mecca for western business men and women, many from America. It's believed thousands of U.S. citizens own a city that is now under siege.
Just in the last few minutes we've been pushed pushed back and back and back. We were originally up where the fire engines are. We've been pushed back and back and back. What I'm hearing is there could be a new assault about to start. I can't confirm this at the moment but this is what we've been told. There are perhaps 100 people still in this Taj Hotel here behind me. They would be guests. They would be hostages and they would also be hostage takers.
With every one of these, I just cannot confirm the actual numbers at the moment but this is what we're being told. As you can see they are now dousing what became quite a significant fire only about half an hour ago. Flames 20, 30 feet leaping out of those top balconies there where you can see the jets of water now being directed.
We understand that the hostage takers are still in there. The earlier reports have been saying there are between 7 and 15 hostages both Indian, also of European and perhaps North American passport holders as well. What we've heard during the course of the last ten hours or so when this started was - excuse me. I'm just being told - there are people - if you can pan over you can see there's people walking to the annex wing. This tower here is also part of the Taj as well. There were people trapped in that building all night as well. We're seeing people down there near the front gate. I can't tell you what's happening at the moment but if you just come close by the fire engines you'll see army guys in fatigues are taking a position there covering that entrance. So obviously this is reaching some sort of new level, the hostage crisis here at the taj hotel.
As I was saying earlier, there were gunmen - when they went in, this is probably about ten hours ago. This happened at 10:00 p.m. local time. The time is now 8:30 in the morning, they went in there and they rounded people up and they asked for people with British and U.S. passports and these are the ones they were after. We don't know how many or if any British nationals or U.S. nationals were taken or are hostages at this stage but we understand that it is a possibility.
We're now just waiting to see what happens. It's obviously very tense here at the moment.
We think that there is the likelihood - the strong likelihood now there may be a renewed assault, military maneuver into the hotel in front of us there. We're not hearing any nonspecific threats from any other parts of the city at this stage.
Remember ten targets were attacked over the past ten hours. There's been a very well-organized and many are saying now sophisticated, coordinated attack on very, very high-profile targets throughout this city particularly the vast majority of them coming from south Mumbai where I am now.
South Mumbai is the commercial heart of India’s commercial city. This is a wealthy area. This is where a lot of foreign businessmen, indeed, foreign travelers come. They stay at this hotel. This is a favorite. There is one more hotel. The Oberoi hotel, which i haven't mentioned. There is also a hostage crisis there. That is about ten minutes here by car. We're getting less information on that. And there could also be gunmen still in a hospital, a women and children's hospital. Again, not far from here. There are also women and children in that hospital.
It's a very, very fluid situation. The hard facts at this stage are hard to come by. I can tell you the official death toll now stands at 87 people. Those ten attacks included those two hotels. They included the hospital. They also included the main railway station which is an enormous hub for rail passengers in the city of Mumbai. This is a city of 19 million people. It's being reported that gunmen burst into the railway station, opened fire with assault weapons and also let off hand grenades. This is being reported in the Times of India newspaper as well as a couple of others. There are pictures on the front pages of papers showing both the carnage on the floor inside the railway station and also pictures showing what looked like to be the terrorist. We're seeing ambulances arrive as well so we obviously are staying right on top of this.