One of the first indications that something was very wrong came at 10.30pm, when two men were seen brandishing AK-47 rifles and grenades in Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, Bombay's magnificent main railway station. Seconds later, passengers were sent fleeing for their lives as the men sprayed the concourse with automatic gunfire. Within minutes, Bombay's security forces were being inundated by news of a horrifying wave of terror attacks across this city of 18 million people.
A five-minute car journey south from the station, next to the Gateway of India, Bombay's most famous landmark, gunmen were storming the lobby of the city's finest hotel: the Taj Mahal Palace. Armed with bombs, they were seeking British and American citizens, witnesses said.
"They were very young, like boys really, wearing jeans and T-shirts," Rakesh Patel, a stunned British guest at the Taj, told an Indian television channel. He said he had been among about a dozen foreigners who had been herded together by two heavily armed men and taken up to the hotel's upper floors.
"They said they wanted anyone with British and American passports and then they took us up the stairs. I think they wanted to take us to the roof," he said. He and another hostage had managed to escape when they reached the 18th floor, he said.
As he was speaking to the camera, there was a loud explosion from the roof of the hotel.
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