Five hostages killed in Jewish center, chaos at hotel

The bodies of five hostages have been found at a Jewish center in Mumbai, according to reports, and fighting still rages at a hotel in the city two days after terrorists launched a series of deadly attacks.

Indian army commandos are shown on the rooftop of the Jewish center in Mumbai.

Indian army commandos are shown on the rooftop of the Jewish center in Mumbai.

Rabbi Gavriel Noach Holtzberg, the city’s envoy for the community, and his wife were among the dead in Chabad House, said Rabbi Zalman Shmotkin, a spokesman for Chabad-Lubavitch International in the United States.

CNN’s Indian sister network, CNN-IBN, reported the siege at the Chabad House was close to ending but gunfire and explosions continued to ring out from the building.

Israeli Foreign Ministry official spokesman Haim Hoshen told an Israeli news station five bodies were found.

The death toll from Wednesday’s attacks in nine locations was 151 — including three Germans, two Americans, an Italian, a Briton, an Australian and one Chinese among the at least 15 foreigners killed — with a further 327 injured.

The killed Americans have been identified as Alan Scherr, 58, and his daughter Naomi, 13, from Virginia. They were visiting India with a meditation group at died at the Oberoi.

Earlier, police said they had cleared the Oberoi Hotel, killing two militants and freeing hundreds of trapped guests. They found 30 bodies and were searching the building.

However, fighting continued to rage at the Taj Mahal Hotel — where one gunmen was reportedly still holed up.

Mumbai Police Commissioner Hasan Gafoor told CNN-IBN the gunman was shooting and throwing grenades at security forces.

Gafoor said most of the attackers had been heavily armed.

“They were carrying an AK-assault rifle, one or two hand guns, and grenades.”

Outside, onlookers and reporters cowered behind cars as gunfire was exchanged and explosions could be heard. An AFP journalist was reportedly injured.

R.R. Patel, the Maharashtra home minister, said 11 gunmen had been killed and another captured alive. Fourteen police were dead.

CNN’s International Security Correspondent Paula Newton said UK authorities were checking reports that some of the attackers were of British origin.

Meanwhile, Pranab Mukherjee, the external affairs minister for Maharashtra state, where Mumbai is located, said the preliminary investigation “indicates that some elements in Pakistan are involved.”

“I can’t tell you the details since the investigation is going on,” he said. “Until the investigation is complete, it will be difficult to say where they came from and how they came.”

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh also indicated the gunmen came from Pakistan’s largest city, Karachi, in a telephone call with his Pakistani counterpart Friday.

In response, Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said he would send the chief of his country’s intelligence agency to help with the investigation.

The gunmen were young men in their 20s who “obviously had to be trained somewhere,” a member of the Indian navy’s commando unit said Friday.

They fired at guests “with no remorse” and knew the layout of the hotels well enough to “vanish” after confronting security forces, the commando said.

“Not everybody can fire the AK series of weapons, not everybody can throw a grenade like that,” the commando said outside the Taj hotel. “It is obvious that they were trained somewhere.”

The shell-shocked city woke Friday to television images of Indian soldiers rappelling down ropes from military choppers on to the roof of Chabab House, which houses the Mumbai headquarters of the Chabad community, a Hasidic Jewish movement.

Rabbi Holtzberg and his wife were inside. A cook at the center, who had barricaded herself in a room, grabbed the couple’s 2-year-old son and escaped with another person, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported.

The identity of the attackers remained a mystery. Police said they came by boats to the waterfront near the Gateway of India monument and the two hotels.

The Indian navy, stepping up patrols on the country’s western coast after the attack, was questioning the crew of the MV Alpha. Authorities suspect the attacks originated from the ship, which they believe is from Karachi.

Karachi police said they had no evidence the attackers departed from their city.

The Press Trust of India, citing Union Cabinet Minister Kapil Sibal, reported the gunmen had worked for months to prepare, even setting up “control rooms” in the two luxury hotels that were targeted.

Indian authorities said no one had claimed responsibility, although the Deccan Mujahideen took credit in e-mails sent to several Indian news outlets.Interpol said it would send a delegation to India.

“When such coordinated and planned terrorist attacks are carried out against international targets and when a country’s head of government states there are suspected ‘external linkages’, the police in the country concerned require international assistance,” said Interpol’s Secretary General Ronald K. Noble.

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