Mumbai begins to heal after terror strikes

Mumbai begins to heal after terror strikes
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First Published: Sun, Nov 30 2008. 02 16 PM IST
Updated: Sun, Nov 30 2008. 02 16 PM IST
Mumbai: The crowded, bustling financial capital that witnessed three days of bloodshed has slowly begun to pull itself back together Sunday as a once-besieged restaurant reopened its doors and Indians mourned their dead.
A day after the siege ended, corpses were still being brought out of the ritzy Taj Mahal hotel where three suspected Muslim militants made a last stand before Indian commandos killed them in a blaze of gunfire and explosions.
Sunday morning found the landmark waterfront hotel, popular among foreign tourists and Indian society, surrounded by metal barricades, its shattered windows boarded over. At the famous Gateway of India basalt arch nearby, a shrine of candles, flowers and messages commemorated victims.
“We have been to two funerals already,” said Mumbai resident Karin Dutta as she lay a small bouquet of white flowers for several friends killed in the hotel. “We’re going to another one now.”
At least 175 people were massacred in the rampage carried out by gunmen at 10 sites across Mumbai starting Wednesday night. One site, the Cafe Leopold, a famous tourist restaurant and scene of one of the first attacks, opened for the first time since the attacks on Sunday afternoon.
The death toll was revised down Sunday from 195 after authorities said some bodies were counted twice, but they said it could rise again as areas of the Taj Mahal were still being searched. Among the dead were 18 foreigners, including six Americans. Nine attackers were killed.
The dead also included Germans, Canadians, Israelis and nationals from Britain, Italy, Japan, China, Thailand, Australia and Singapore.
“Suddenly no one feels safe or secure,” said Joe Sequeira, the manager of a popular restaurant near the Oberoi hotel, another site targeted in the attacks. “It will take time. People are scared but they will realize it’s no use being scared and sitting at home.”
A previously unknown Muslim group called Deccan Mujahideen, a name suggesting origins inside India has claimed responsibility for the attacks that killed more than 170 people. But Indian officials said the sole surviving gunman, now in custody, was from Pakistan and voiced suspicions of their neighbor.
Pakistan denied it was involved and demanded evidence. The assaults have raised fears among US officials about a possible surge in violence between Pakistan and India, the nuclear-armed rivals have fought three wars against each other, two over the disputed region of Kashmir.
India’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh called a rare meeting of leaders from the country’s main political parties to discuss the situation Sunday.
Each new detail about the attackers raised more questions. Who trained the militants, who were so well prepared they carried bags of almonds to keep their energy up? What role, if any, did archrival Pakistan play in the attack? And how did so few assailants, who looked like college students, wreak so much damage?
As officials pointed the finger at neighboring Pakistan, some Indians looked inward and expressed anger at their own government.
Suspicions in Indian media quickly settled on the militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba, long seen as a creation of the Pakistani intelligence service to help wage its clandestine war against India in disputed Kashmir.
It was the country’s deadliest terrorist act since 1993 serial bombings in Mumbai killed 257 people.
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First Published: Sun, Nov 30 2008. 02 16 PM IST