Saturday, November 29, 2008

Mumbai Attack

Mumbai attack: Government 'has no evidence of British involvement'
The Government has "no knowledge" of any British suspects being among the terrorists who attacked Mumbai, the Home Secretary has said.

By Jon Swaine, 28 Nov 2008

Jacqui Smith said that despite reports to the contrary, she had received no information suggesting two British men had been part of a group of eight militants captured by Indian commandos.

"We will do anything we can to help Indian authorities through what is obviously a very difficult time," Miss Smith said. "We will do what is necessary. At the moment the priority is to support the immediate needs.

Vilasrao Deshmukh, the chief minister of Mumbai, was earlier reported to have said that two British-born Pakistanis were among eight gunmen seized by Indian commandos who stormed buildings to free hostages.

The Foreign Office said it was investigating reports on NDTV, a local television news channel, that the terrorists – who swarmed into luxury hotels and other tourist sites in the city – included "British citizens of Pakistani origin".

Earlier on Friday, Gordon Brown said he "would not want to be drawn into early conclusions" over the claims.

The Prime Minister called for international co-ordination to combat terrorism in the wake of the attacks, which he called "atrocious". He said: "We have got to look at how international action against terrorism can be improved."

"Obviously when you have terrorists operating in one country, they may be getting support from another country or coming from another country, and it is very important that we strengthen the co-operation between India and Britain in dealing with these instances of terrorist attacks," he told Sky News.

The Prime Minister's comments came as Indian commando troops cleared the last terrorists from buildings across Mumbai.

The troops killed at least two militants at the Trident Oberoi hotel, where police found 24 bodies. About 93 guests and staff – including two Britons and another clutching a baby – were rushed out and loaded into waiting cars, buses and ambulances.

JK Dutt, the director general of India's National Security Guard, said the hotel had been brought "under our control".

"We have killed two terrorists today," he said. "There was lots of firing, they also lobbed hand grenades. Some of them are unexploded, we are going to defuse them – you may hear some sound of explosions."

It is thought that more than 100 commandos entered the Taj Mahal hotel – in which a hostage situation was thought to have ended on Thursday – and gunfire and explosions have been heard. Police reported finding at least 30 bodies in one hall of the hotel.

Troops also stormed the Nariman House complex in the south of the city, which houses a Jewish group. A woman and a child were seen leaving the building after the commandos, who arrived in helicopters, abseiled down ropes to secure the building.

Mr Brown, who is to talk to Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh later on Friday, said he did not believe there were any further Britons among the hostages.

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