UNFORTUNATELY, THE STATE DEPARTMENT HAS JUST CONFIRMED THAT THERE ARE NO SURVIVORS AT THE CHABAD HOUSE.
MAY THEIR FAMILIES BE COMFORTED BY HASHM.
MAY WE BLESS HASHM IN HIS MERCY FOR RETURNING THEIR SON TO THE SAFETY OF HIS FAMILY'S ARMS. MAY HE GO FROM STRENGTH TO STRENGTH.
This has Al Qeda written all over it. According to the Television report I heard, the terrorists where looking for Westerners and, specifically, Americans in the attack.
Tonight I pray for the victims' families, and for the well-being of the hostages.
UPDATE (5:08 a.m. EST Friday)
'Commandos take over top floors of Mumbai Chabad House'
By BY HERB KEINON, JPOST.COM STAFF AND AP
Indian commando forces in Mumbai have taken control of the top floors of the city's Chabad House after storming the building where Islamic terrorists were holding hostages, according to a security officer at the Israeli Embassy.
UPDATE (1:10 p.m. EST Thursday)
Arutz7 is reporting that Anti Terror squads have removed all people from the Chabad House:
Mumbai: Military Activity at Chabad House and Taj Mahal
(IsraelNN.com) According to unconfirmed reports, Indian troops removed eight to 12 people from Chabad House in Mumbai Thursday evening. There is no word on their condition.
The Indian military claims that all the hostages were removed from the Taj Mahal hotel, one of the sites attacked by a Muslim terrorist group on Wednesday in attempt to free its members from Indian jails.
UPDATE: (9:13 a.m. EST Thursday)
Arutz7 reports that the terrorists in the Chabad house have offered to negotiate for the hostages. Meanwhile, Indian Anti-Terror Squads are preparing for an assault.
UPDATE: (8:38 a.m. Thursday)
Chabad's website reports the child of Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and his wife Rivka has been rescued; however, the fate of his parents is unknown.
UPDATE (7:03 a.m. EST Thursday): ACCORDING TO Arutz7 a powerful explosion was just heard at the Chabad house. Here's the story:
'Beginning of End Game' at Nariman House
by Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu and Hana Levi Julian
(IsraelNN.com) Sky News is reporting that two powerful explosions were heard an hour ago from the Nariman House building which houses Mumbai's Chabad House, in India, where at least five Islamist terrorists are still holed up. It is believed that five Israelis are being held hostage.
Hundreds of commandos have surrounded the building and have already killed one terrorist, but five others are still believed to be hiding in the building. Unconfirmed reports said that another terrorist at the nearby Taj Mahal Hotel may have been caught alive.
Chabad-Lubavitch emissary Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and his wife Rivka were both reported unconscious, as were several of the Israelis, according to a babysitter who managed to escape and called the family shortly after the siege began. The Foreign Ministry reported that between 10 and 15 Israelis believed to be in Mumbai, formerly known as Bombay, have not been reached and their whereabouts and condition are still unknown.
Local police previously secured the release of the couple's one and a half-year-old son Moshe, but both parents were still being held captive.
Rivka Holtzberg's father, Rabbi Shimon Rozenberg, is reportedly flying out to the scene. Rabbi Rozenberg is the principal of Migdal Ohr Girls' High School in Migdal Emek, which was founded by his brother-in-law, Rabbi Yitzchak David Grossman, winner of the Israel Prize and numerous other public awards.
A previously unknown Muslim terrorist group linked to the international Al Qaeda terrorist organization claimed responsibility for the massive multi-site terror attack carried out late Wednesday night in Mumbai, formerly known as Bombay. Mumbai is home to some 15 million people and is India's largest city.
The terrorists struck two luxury hotels frequented by Americans and British nationals, the Taj Mahal Hotel and the Oberoi Hotel as well as the city's largest train station, a movie theater and the Cama Hospital with automatic weapons and grenades.
Also among the nine sites struck by the Deccan Mujahideen group throughout "the city that never sleeps" was the Chabad House, a popular stop for Israeli tourists passing through the area who are provided with kosher food and Jewish programs there.
Three top police officials were among at least 101 dead in the attacks, including Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) Chief Hemant Karkare, Additional Commissioner Ashok Kamte and encounter specialist Vijay Salaskar, reported IBN News, which said Karkare had received death threats in phone calls at his home within the past several days.
The terrorists have demanded that India release "all mujahedins," and that "only after that will we release the people," as they told a local television station. Several other Israelis have maintained telephone contact from their eighth-floor hotel rooms. The Chabad website reported that "the situation is grim."
American and British nationals were reportedly being separated out from among other foreigners and held as hostages, according to one British citizen who told Sky News television that he had watched as a gunman asked a group of some 40 hostages for their country of origin. Those who were from Italy, he said, were released, but British and American citizens were held.
British European Parliament Member Sajjad Karim told the television network before his cell phone went dead that he was barricaded in a darkened restaurant in the basement of the Oberoi Hotel. "We are now in the dark in this room and we have barricaded all the doors. It's really bad," he said. Some 200 people were reported being held hostage at the Oberoi Hotel.
It is also estimated that there are still between 45 to 50 hostages being held by the terrorists at the Taj Mahal Hotel. NDTV reported that Indian security officials believe the terrorists may have infiltrated into the city by sea. There is little regulation in the Bombay Harbor, noted the journalist in his report. Nariman House is located in the southern part of the city, along the water.
The sophisticated terrorist attacks, the worst ever in Mumbai and India, hit as Mumbai is involved in elections.
YESHIVA WORLD BLOG:
TEHILLIM NEEDED - Chabad Shaliach & Wife Missing Since Terror Attack
November 26, 2008
As soon as the news broke of the Mumbai terror attacks, YWN contacted Chabad officials to inquire if the local Shaliach was assisting in rescue efforts - as is the case when tragedies occur across the globe. We also inquired if there were any Jews R”L killed and/or injured.
“We will get back to you as soon as we reach the Shaliach”, was the response.
Several hours have passed, and the local Chabad Shliach, Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg, and his wife Rivka cannot be located. Numerous attempts to locate him have failed.
According to some reports, one of the bombs was detonated near the Chabad House located on 5 Hormusji Street - Nariman House in Mumbai’s Colaba area. Another Chabad official told YWN that there are unconfirmed reports that the Chabad House was “taken-over by the terrorists”.
“We are working closely with the American and Israeli Government’s to try and get credible information”.
“We are waiting for them to contact us,” the anxious mother-in-law of the Shliach, Mrs. Yehudis Rosenberg told a Chabad website. “It’s possible that the phone system in the country crashed - which is a frequent occurrence there.”
The Tzibur is requested to say Tehillim for Gavriel Noach ben Freida Bluma, and Rivka bas Yehudis.
[Numerous locations were attacked by gunfire and bombs - injuring close to 1000 and killing 80.]
(Yehuda Drudgestein - YWN)
Nov 26, 2008 20:37 | Updated Nov 27, 2008 0:41
78 killed and 200 wounded as Mumbai attacks continue
By HERB KEINON AND AP
Teams of heavily armed gunmen stormed luxury hotels, a popular restaurant and a crowded train station in coordinated attacks across India's financial capital Wednesday night, killing at least 78 people and taking Westerners hostage, police said.
One of the attacks in took place near the Chabad House in the city, according to the Foreign Ministry.
The ministry said it had no information of any Israelis wounded in the attack, but had set up a situation room to deal with the crisis and was in contact with Israel's consulate in the city which was trying to locate all the Israelis there.
An explosion followed by a raging fire struck one of the hotels, the landmark Taj Mahal, early Thursday. Screams could be heard and enormous clouds of black smoke rose from the century-old edifice on Mumbai's waterfront. Firefighters were spraying water at the blaze.
The attackers specifically targeted Britons and Americans, witnesses said. Fires burned and gunfire was heard for hours. Officials said at least 200 people were wounded.
The motive for the onslaught was not immediately clear, but Mumbai has frequently been targeted in terrorist attacks blamed on Islamic extremists, including a series of bombings in July 2007 that killed 187 people.
An Indian media report said a previously unknown group calling itself the Deccan Mujahideen had claimed responsibility for the attacks in e-mails to several media outlets.
Police reported hostages being held at the Taj Mahal and Oberoi hotels, two of the best-known upscale destinations in this crowded but wealthy city.
Gunmen who burst into the Taj "were targeting foreigners. They kept shouting: `Who has US or UK passports?"' said Ashok Patel, a British citizen who fled from the hotel.
Authorities believed seven to 15 foreigners were prisoners at the Taj Mahal, but it was not immediately clear if hostages at the Oberoi were Indians or foreigners, said Anees Ahmed, a top state official.
State Department spokesman Robert Wood said US officials were not aware of any American casualties, but were still checking. He said he could not address reports that Westerners might be among the hostages.
"We condemn these attacks and the loss of innocent life," White House spokesman Tony Fratto said.
Johnny Joseph, chief secretary for Maharashtra state, of which Mumbai is the capital, said 78 people had been killed and 200 had been wounded.
Blood smeared the floor of the Chhatrapati Shivaji rail station, where attackers sprayed bullets into the crowded terminal. Press Trust of India quoted the chief of the Mumbai railway police, A.K. Sharma, as saying several men armed with rifles and grenades were holed up at the station.
Other gunmen attacked Leopold's restaurant, a landmark popular with foreigners, and the police headquarters in southern Mumbai, the area where most of the attacks took place. The restaurant was riddled with bullet holes and there were blood on the floor and shoes left by fleeing customers.
A British citizen who was dining at the Oberoi hotel told Sky News television that the gunmen who struck there singled out Britons and Americans.
Alex Chamberlain said a gunman, a young man of 22 or 23, ushered 30 or 40 people from the restaurant into a stairway and ordered everyone to put up their hands. He said the gunman spoke in Hindi or Urdu.
"They were talking about British and Americans specifically. There was an Italian guy, who, you know, they said: 'Where are you from?" and he said he's from Italy and they said 'fine' and they left him alone. And I thought: 'Fine, they're going to shoot me if they ask me anything - and thank God they didn't," he said.
Chamberlain said he managed to slip away as the patrons were forced to walk up stairs, but he thought much of the group was being held hostage.
Early Thursday, several European lawmakers were among people who barricaded themselves inside the Taj, a century-old seaside hotel complex and one of the city's best-known destinations.
"I was in the main lobby and there was all of a sudden a lot of firing outside," said Sajjad Karim, part of a delegation of European lawmakers visiting Mumbai ahead of a European Union-India summit.
As he turned to get away, "all of a sudden another gunmen appeared in front of us, carrying machine gun-type weapons. And he just started firing at us ... I just turned and ran in the opposite direction," he told The Associated Press over his mobile phone.
Hours later, Karim remained holed up in a hotel restaurant, unsure if it was safe to come out.
The British Foreign Office said it was advising all British citizens in Mumbai to stay indoors.
Britain's foreign secretary, David Miliband, strongly condemned the attacks. "Today's attacks in Mumbai which have claimed many innocent victims remind us, yet again, of the threat we face from violent extremists," Miliband said in a statement.
India has been wracked by bomb attacks the past three years, which police blame on Muslim militants intent on destabilizing this largely Hindu country. Nearly 700 people have died.
Since May a militant group calling itself the Indian Mujahideen has taken credit for a string of blasts that killed more than 130 people. The most recent was in September, when a series of explosions struck a park and crowded shopping areas in the capital, New Delhi, killing 21 people and wounding about 100.
Mumbai has been hit repeatedly by terror attacks since March 1993, when Muslim underworld figures tied to Pakistani militants allegedly carried out a series of bombings on Mumbai's stock exchange, trains, hotels and gas stations. Authorities say those attacks, which killed 257 people and wounded more than 1,100, were carried out to avenge the deaths of hundreds of Muslims in religious riots that had swept India.
Ten years later, in 2003, 52 people were killed in Mumbai bombings blamed on Muslim militants and in July 2007 a series of seven blasts on railway trains and at commuter rail stations killed at least 187.
Relations between Hindus, who make up more than 80 percent of India's 1 billion population, and Muslims, who make up about 14 percent, have sporadically erupted into bouts of sectarian violence since British-ruled India was split into independent India and Pakistan in 1947.