November 26th, 2008
10:45 PM ET

Bombs, gunfire, chaos, carnage

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.

Filed under: Andrew Stevens • Global 360° • India • India Attacked • Terrorism
soundoff (60 Responses)
  1. Priya Junnarkar

    Folks – The people in the ground know best how to handle it better. All you see is what the media is showing you which is way different than what's happening in the ground.

    This is the first of it's kind."A hostage situation without any demands" – None of the previous terror situations have been like this. Even the experts are not sure how to handle this.These are people who have Phd in these specialized area.

    Bottom-line you have seen people who were rescued say " India is a beautiful place with warm people " – Please keep your 2C to yourself about value of life in India.

    It's time to be strong and not give in to this evil force.

    November 28, 2008 at 2:05 pm |
  2. Atul

    I just lost my cousin who was killed along with her two sons in the terrorist attack so I write with some emotion
    The Pakistani establishment has this act honed to a fine art ,While the official position is that of we are also suffering from terrorism the actual position on ground is that no Pakistani government can act against the ISI which is a rogue body and in fact secretly encourages all acts of terrorism whether aganst India or Coalition in Afghanistan
    BTW Pakistan has just started "suffering" from terrorism as it was forced to show the world that it was on the US side and the Pakistan trained terrorists who were in Afghanistan were forced back by Coalition forces and now they are in Pakistan opposing the Pakistanis ...This has just started late last year and some of these actually are ISI sponsored !
    There is gentleman called Dawood Ibrahim who was a drug smuggler and sponsored bomb blasts in India and is in Pakistan in a locality called Clifton ( where the Bhutto family stays) protected by the ISI and Pakistani Army soldiers Pakistan refuses to hand him over despite Interpol red corner notice saying that he has not committed any criime in Pakistan .This person runs a drug and extortion mafia in India which is operated from Pakistan
    When the Indian airline plane was hijacked to Kandahar the hijackers were actually tutored by the ISI
    In another instance Pakistani ISI Officer handed over a loaded revolver at Karachi airport and this was witnessed by an British passenger so the terrorist who upti that moment did not have a weapon brandished it around after that !
    India has to get its act together and kill each terrorist whether in India or Pakistan and US has to support the fact that terrorism anywhere is bad and not only when US Interests are adversely affected.

    November 27, 2008 at 6:39 pm |
  3. kapil bidawatka

    I believe this attack is intented to hit the economy of India and reduce its global economic influence. The reasoning for this hypothesis is the attack on soft targets like top hotels frequented by foreign financial big wigs. The perpetrators are trying to sow fear and doubts in the minds of foreign investors and they will now question the security of their investments in India. You might temporarily see a withdrawal of foreign direct investment from india till india can convince them through greater security measures

    This attack will have effects on the indian stock market similar to that of NYSE after 911

    The meda has mentioned that the terrorists are trying to single out Americans and Britishers but that is more to indirectly hurt the indian economy rather than send any message to the US or British governments

    November 27, 2008 at 6:24 pm |
  4. ajay

    If any sane person looks at the bigger picture and put the pieces together following are the obvious conclusions
    1) Funds for Terrorism
    Saudi Arabia is the major financial and logistics contributor to all terror networks. It directly funds these groups or does it indirectly using various fictions names and groups. Saudi Arabia had major role in 9-11 and it is still the backbone for major fundamental Islamic networks. But why do we go after Iraq and Afghanistan instead of SA. Just because it is a US ally and crucial for oil imports.
    2)Breeding places
    Long ago , 8-10 years before 9-11 when India was clamoring that Pakistan being a breeding place for extremists and there where militant training camps located inside Pakistan, at that point US and other European countries asked for material proof for these allegations. There was enough evidence to suggest growing extremism with Pakistan but all developed nation preferred to be salient as it didn’t affect them directly. In fact developed countries where happy selling arms and ammunition to Pakistan and other countries to further their economic ends.Terrorism now is global problem. We should look at the root of the problem rather than its face values. The roots of this problem lie in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. Hope our politicians realize the urgency of hour and stand together to wipe this menace and bring peace to whole world.

    November 27, 2008 at 6:19 pm |
  5. Kumar

    This is regarding CNN news coverage on the current crisis in Mumbai. I am an Indian citizen, anxiously following the new coverage. I just saw a map of India being shown -without Kashmir. Our people are fighting day in and day out, getting killed by the minute to safeguard the unity and integrity of India. Kashmir is an integral part of India. Please be sensitive in your depictions of the map of our nation. Thank you.

    November 27, 2008 at 6:05 pm |
  6. Shruthi

    More people died in the attacks on the trains in 2006. Everybody forgot about it in a few days and Mumbai was back to normal. What a shame ! ! It has happened again and India was not prepared ! Are we going to forget about this in a few days or are we going to pursue the Indian governament to be stern ?

    Indian governament won't be stern on this as they are afraid that they might alienate the muslim population in India. It's all about the vote bank. Nobody is bothered about the future of the country.

    November 27, 2008 at 5:53 pm |
  7. Nandini Nagraj

    This was not just a Westerners related attack.A lot of Indians were killed, much more than the 6 'foreigners' including a Japanese citizen.There were more than 115 indians

    November 27, 2008 at 4:37 pm |
  8. rutlandw

    The terrorists will never stop until they win or we kill them all. Mecca can be a target too. Our government tried to do something but all I hear is how mean we are to the poor terrorists. Its time to stop playing with them.
    We stopped the German werewolf terrorists after WW2 by killing all we captured -check it out ! Stand them againest the wall and use hollow points not FMJ. wwrutland.wordpress.com

    November 27, 2008 at 3:15 pm |
  9. Venkat

    First of all my condolances to all the family's of the killed. May God give them this strength to face this situation. I am an Indian and seeing this every 2-3 month make me really angry and sad. We need to have tough anti terror laws as what we have in the western world. It's high time for the Indian politicians to come together and show that we are together and implement a tough laws to erase this menace.

    November 27, 2008 at 12:36 pm |
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