Friday, November 28, 2008

May The Families Be Comforted by Hashm. No Survivors at Chabad Center


Fox News just reported that the State Department has confirmed five dead at the Chabad House, may their families and friends be comforted by Hashm.

We prayed for their welfare. We prayed for the families. We prayed for the victims. We must continue to pray as we prepare to mourn the lost members of Benei Yisrael.

As we mourn the dead, we must also remember that we must celebrate the Mercy of
Hashm in restoring their child to his family.

Pray for the strength of the families in their saddness.

Pray that the remaining son grow strong in the arms of his family, may he go from strength to strength-- from his first haircut to his first day of school, from his Bar Mitzvah to his Chuppah--and may he remember his parents' service to Hashm. In drawing close to Torah, he will draw close to them.

He is a special child, blessed with life.

Urgent: 5 Hostages Reported Dead Inside Mumbai Jewish Center; Fierce Gunfight at Taj Hotel,2933,458564,00.html
Friday, November 28, 2008

DEVELOPING: An Israeli diplomat in Mumbai says there are no survivors inside an religious center run by an ultra-orthodox Jewish group.

The envoy told FOX News that five hostages are dead inside the building.

A rescue service run by Orthodox Jews says staff members sent to Mumbai to help at the siege of the Chabad Lubavich Center also are reporting the hostages inside are dead.

"Apparently the hostages did not remain alive," the Zaka service said in a brief statement quoting its staff in Mumbai. It did identify the hostages nor say how many may have died. A Brooklyn, N.Y.- born rabbi and his wife had been believed to be held hostage.

The Zaka reportedly were allowed to enter the center as part of their role in preparing orthodox Jewish bodies for immediate burial.

Police at the scene said at least two gunmen inside the center were killed.

There were no reports yet of police casualties in the siege.

Israel's ambassador to India, Mark Sofer, said they believed there were up to nine hostages inside. Sofer denied reports that Israeli commandos were taking part in the operation.

Meanwhile, a firefight between commandos and the remaining gunmen inside the Taj Mahal hotel intensified as the last of the hostages there were rescued.

Persistent gunfire and half a dozen grenade explosions could be heard from outside the hotel, according to a reporter in Mumbai, who said fires also had broken out inside the building.

Sources told a reporter in Mumbai that commando units were engaging at least one gunman on the floor above the main lobby. All of the hostages that had been held in the hotel were rescued, police officials said.

Indian officials, meanwhile, declared the nearby Oberoi hotel to be secure, and all hostages freed.

"The hotel is under our control," J.K. Dutt, director general of India's elite National Security Guard commando unit, told reporters, adding that 24 bodies had been found. Dozens of people — including a man clutching a baby — had been evacuated from Oberoi earlier Friday.

More than 143 people were killed and 288 injured when suspected Islamic militants attacked 10 sites in Mumbai starting Wednesday evening.

At least eight foreigners are known to have been killed so far and 22 more have been injured, said top security official M.L. Kumawat. The dead include three Germans, and one person each from Japan, Canada, Britain and Australia. The nationality of one more victim is unknown.

The injured include five from Britain, three Germans, two Americans, two from Oman and one each from Norway, Spain, Canada, Finland, Philippines, Australia, Italy and China. Two more were unknown.

Security officials said their operations were almost over.

"It's just a matter of a few hours that we'll be able to wrap up things," Lt. Gen. N. Thamburaj told reporters Friday morning.

The group rescued from the Oberoi, many holding passports, included at least two Americans, a Briton, two Japanese nationals and several Indians. Some carried luggage with Canadian flags. One man in a chef's uniform was holding a small baby. About 20 airline crew members were freed, including staff from Lufthansa and Air France.

"I'm going home, I'm going to see my wife," said Mark Abell, with a huge smile on his face after emerging from the hotel.

Abell, from Britain, had locked himself in his room during the siege. "These people here have been fantastic, the Indian authorities, the hotel staff. I think they are a great advertisement for their country," he said as security officials pulled him away.

The well-coordinated strikes by small bands of gunmen starting Wednesday night left the city shell-shocked.

Late Thursday, after about 400 people had been brought out of the Taj hotel, officials said it had been cleared of gunmen. But Friday morning, army commanders said that while three gunmen had been killed, two to three more were still inside with about 15 civilians.

A few hours after that, Thamburaj, the security official, said at least one gunman was still alive inside the hotel and had cut of electricity on the floor where he was hiding. Shortly after that announcement, another round of explosions and gunfire were heard coming from the hotel.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh blamed "external forces" for the violence — a phrase sometimes used to refer to Pakistani militants, whom Indian authorities often blame for attacks.

On Friday, India's foreign minister ratcheted up the accusations over the attacks.

"According to preliminary information, some elements in Pakistan are responsible for Mumbai terror attacks," Pranab Mukherjee told reporters in the western city of Jodhpur.

"Proof cannot be disclosed at this time," he said, adding that Pakistan had assured New Delhi it would not allow its territory to be used for attacks against India. India has long accused Islamabad of allowing militant Muslim groups, particularly those fighting in the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir, to train and take shelter in Pakistan. Mukherjee's carefully phrased comments appeared to indicate he was accusing Pakistan-based groups of staging the attack, and not Pakistan itself.

Islamabad has long denied those accusations.

Earlier Friday, Pakistan's Defense Minister Ahmed Mukhtar, in Islamabad, denied involvement by his country: "I will say in very categoric terms that Pakistan is not involved in these gory incidents."

The gunmen were well-prepared, apparently scouting some targets ahead of time and carrying large bags of almonds to keep up their energy.

"It's obvious they were trained somewhere ... Not everyone can handle the AK series of weapons or throw grenades like that," an unidentified member of India's Marine Commando unit told reporters, his face wrapped in a black mask. He said the men were "very determined and remorseless" and ready for a long siege. One backpack they found had 400 rounds of ammunition inside.

He said the Taj was filled with terrified civilians, making it very difficult for the commandos to fire on the gunmen.

"To try and avoid civilian casualties we had to be so much more careful," he said, adding that hotel was a grim sight. "Bodies were strewn all over the place, and there was blood everywhere."

A U.S. investigative team was heading to Mumbai, a State Department official said Thursday evening, speaking on condition of anonymity because the U.S. and Indian governments were still working out final details.

India has been shaken repeatedly by terror attacks blamed on Muslim militants in recent years, but most were bombings striking crowded places: markets, street corners, parks. Mumbai — one of the most populated cities in the world with some 18 million people — was hit by a series of bombings in July 2006 that killed 187 people.

These attacks were more sophisticated — and more brazen.

They began at about 9:20 p.m. with shooters spraying gunfire across the Chhatrapati Shivaji railroad station, one of the world's busiest terminals. For the next two hours, there was an attack roughly every 15 minutes — the Jewish center, a tourist restaurant, one hotel, then another, and two attacks on hospitals. There were 10 targets in all.'s Judd Berger, the Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

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