UPDATE: A team of FBI agents was ordered to fly to India to investigate the militants who killed four Americans and injured at least two others during a wave of assaults that ripped through a commercial center of Mumbai. The investigators aim to learn more about the origins of the militants who carried out the lethal strikes on luxury hotels, a train station and an Orthodox Jewish center where a New York rabbi and his wife were among five hostages slain. An American and his teenage daughter traveling with a Virginia-based spiritual group were also among the 150 people killed during the coordinated attacks. American lives remained in peril in Mumbai on Friday, the said. Warning that “Americans are still at risk on the ground,” Gordon Duguid, a State Department spokesman, confirmed the deaths of two Americans in Mumbai, but would not comment further on the victims. U.S. officials were checking with Indian authorities and hospitals to learn more about the extent of casualties. The State Department urged Americans not to travel to the stricken city, at least through the weekend. MORE
UPDATE: Phone number for US citizens to call about family in Mumbai 888-407-4747
BREAKING: MUMBAI, India — Teams of heavily armed gunmen stormed luxury hotels, a popular tourist attraction and a crowded train station in at least seven attacks in India’s financial capital, killing at least 78 people and wounding at least 200, officials said Thursday. The gunmen were specifically targeting Britons and Americans and a top police official said the gunmen are holding hostages at two luxury hotels, the Taj Mahal and Oberoi hotels. A British restaurant-goer at the Oberoi told Sky News television that the attackers were singling 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. “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. He managed to slip away from the group as they were forced to walk up the stairs, but said most of the group was still being kept hostage. Early Thursday morning, several European lawmakers were among those still barricaded inside the Taj, a century-old seaside hotel complex and one of the city’s best-known destinations. MORE
NEW YORK TIMES: Suketu Mehta, who compared Mumbai to New York in his book Maximum City, attempted to put the scale of the attack in Mumbai in perspective for New Yorkers, saying that it would be “as if terrorists had taken over the Four Seasons and the Waldorff-Astoria and then were running around shooting people in Times Square.” MORE
MUMBAI METROBLOGS: [The gunmen, pictured above] were boys of about 20-25 year-olds. MORE
REUTERS: “At least six foreigners have been killed and the death figure has gone up to 101 now,” Ramesh Tayde, a senior police officer told Reuters from Mumbai’s control room. “We have a figure of 287 people injured.”
TWITTER: Mumbai police don’t want people to update in real time allegedly because it’s affecting operation. MORE
NEW YORK TIMES: The police have requested that reporters and tweeters do not discuss their movements, because they are concerned that the terrorists in the Taj and Oberoi Hotels are watching television to monitor the situation. MORE
MUMBAI METROBLOGS: At last count, 12 locations in Mumbai have seen terrorist attack tonight. Two boats, loaded with explosives, were confiscated from the Gateway of India. The encounters continue…[The gunmen] were boys of about 20-25 year-olds and apparently they demanded that people with American and British passports to identify themselves…Reports are coming in of about 100 people having been evacuated from the Taj and of the stairwell of the hotel being encrusted with dead bodies. MORE
ANAND GIRIDHARADA: Anyone, anywhere who has lived in Mumbai was gasping at the sight of a burning Taj Mahal Palace & Tower hotel. That is because it is not your average hotel. It is not another Sheraton or Hilton in the business district of another world city. It is the aorta through which anything glamorous, sentimental, confidential or profitable passes in Mumbai. Its major role is to serve its guests, who come from around the world and elsewhere in India. But it also serves the local city in a way that few hotels in the world could claim to do. If a momentous infidelity is being committed on a given night, or a billion-dollar business deal being inked, or a recklessly brilliant idea being hatched, there is a fair chance it is being committed, inked, hatched at the Taj. Mumbaikars who can afford it have their most romantic meals at its Wasabi restaurant, accept marriage proposals in its Sea Lounge, land job offers in its coffee shop. It stands across from the Gateway of India. Those who would not dream of paying $3 – a decent daily wage – for one of its fresh-lime sodas sit outside the hotel, leaning against the stone wall on the sea. They take in the scene; they admire the finely dressed people breezing in and out. They know that it is not their time for the Taj now, but, should a fortune bless them, it is in the Taj they will spend it. MORE
CNN: Manuela Testolini [ex-wife of Prince] and her colleagues had just sat down to dinner at the Oberoi hotel restaurant in Mumbai, India, on Wednesday when the sound of gunfire erupted outside. At first, they didn’t know what it was. Then, one of Testolini’s colleagues saw a man get shot to death outside the restaurant’s front door, and everyone started to run. “We left everything behind, including purses and phones,” Testolini told CNN’s Miles O’Brien. “There was a lot of panic.” Testolini said gunfire followed her as she and dozens more fled through the kitchen and down to the ballroom, where they found temporary refuge from the gunfire and grenades raining outside. MORE
WIKIPEDIA: Mumbai (Marathi: ?????, Mumba?, IPA: ), formerly Bombay, is the capital of the Indian state of Maharashtra and the financial capital of India. With an estimated population of thirteen million, it is one of the most populated cities in the world. Along with the neighbouring suburbs of Navi Mumbai and Thane, it forms, at nineteen million, the world’s fifth most populous metropolitan area. Mumbai is the commercial and entertainment centre of India, generating 5% of India’s GDP and accounting for 25% of industrial output, 40% of maritime trade, and 70% of capital transactions to India’s economy. Mumbai is one of the world’s top ten centres of commerce by global financial flow, home to important financial institutions such as the Reserve Bank of India, the Bombay Stock Exchange, the National Stock Exchange of India and the corporate headquarters of many Indian companies and numerous multinational corporations. The city also houses India’s hindi film and television industry, known as Bollywood. Mumbai’s business opportunities, as well as its high standard of living, attract migrants from all over India and, in turn, make the city a potpourri of many communities and cultures.
NEW YORK TIMES: Wired blogger Noah Shachtman points out that “First-hand accounts of the deadly Mumbai attacks are pouring in on Twitter, Flickr, and other social media.” Mr. Shachtman rounds up links to Twitter accounts which are being updated minute by minute, including one on Mumbai and another called BreakingNewz. Mr. Schachtman also draws our attention to a Google map of the attack sites, which has been created, “a shockingly-current Wikipedia page,” and posts on a Mumbai blog following the attacks.
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REUTERS: U.S. authorities have warned of a possible al Qaeda threat to transit systems in and around New York City, a Homeland Security official said on Wednesday. New York police said they were increasing security in response to the warning but said this was “in an abundance of caution.” The warning comes at the start of the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, one of the busiest U.S. travel periods of the year. “The New York City Police Department is aware of an unsubstantiated report indicating that al Qaeda terrorists discussed targeting mass transit in New York City and the vicinity,” Deputy Police Commissioner Paul Browne told Reuters. MORE