MUMBAI — Shock gave way to grief and anger on Saturday as India grappled with the Mumbai terrorist attacks and protesters accused neighbouring Pakistan of being behind the rampage that killed 195 people.
Commandos and rescue personnel were cleaning up the wreckage when about 50 protesters gathered near the smouldering Taj Mahal Palace Hotel. "Our soldiers came and Pakistan ran away," they shouted, pumping their fists skyward.
India has blamed the strikes on "elements" from nuclear rival Pakistan and evidence is mounting that the Islamist terrorists may have hatched their plan there.
Indian authorities said the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation and Britain’s Scotland Yard will participate in the investigation.
“We are, as you know, engaged in a global war on terror and the United States is duty-bound to co-operate, provide assistance and to become engaged in the investigative process,” said David C. Mulford, the U.S. Ambassador to India.
The attacks on the Indian financial capital also left two Canadians dead. One Canadian man was identified by his colleagues at a Montreal hospital as Dr. Michael Moss. He was due to return to work at the Julius Richardson convalescent hospital on Monday.
Moss, 73, was in India at the end of a month-long vacation when he was killed.
“He would go off for a week here or there — he liked to travel — but he had never taken that much time off,” said Francine Dupuis, executive director of the Cavendish Health and Social Services Centre, which includes the Julius Richardson Hospital where Moss worked for 37 years.
“But he had visited the north of India (two years earlier) and said ‘I won’t die before seeing the south,’ ”
Staff at the 60-bed hospital were eagerly anticipating his return.
“Everybody was looking forward to hearing all his stories,” Dupuis said. “What are the odds of going off on a vacation and dying in a terrorist attack?
“It’s our reality it seems, nowadays.”
Late Friday, Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon confirmed a second Canadian had been killed in Mumbai.
“I offer my deepest sympathies to the family and friends of the deceased,” he said in a brief statement.
“We aren’t releasing any information on the identity of the second victim out of privacy concerns and out of respect for the family,” said Daniel Barbarie, spokesman for the Foreign Affairs Department.
“The next of kin have been contacted, but they’ve asked that their privacy be respected.”
A spokesman for Foreign Affairs said 17 Canadians are safe and unharmed.
On Friday, there were reports of a bloody scene at the Taj — a 105-year-old hotel.
The head of an elite commando unit said he had seen 50 bodies in the Taj, including 12 to 15 in one room.
Many guests, trapped in their rooms while the battle raged around them, emerged to harrowing scenes after the killing of the terrorists in relentless gunfire.
“The blood, everywhere the blood,” an American woman called Patricia told the NDTV news channel, choking back tears.
Parts of the Taj had been set ablaze as the terrorists tried to evade scores of India’s best-trained commandos. They left bodies in their wake, some with grenades stuffed into their mouths or concealed underneath.
Black streaks of soot stained the grey bricks, white balconies and red-tiled roofs of the hotel’s facade.
The ground floor was gutted, the wood-panelled walls blackened and cracked by explosions and fire.
On Friday, troops slid down ropes from helicopters as they captured Islamic terrorists in a Jewish centre.
They killed two terrorists but failed to save the lives of five hostages, including a New York-based rabbi and his wife.
The commandos also cleared the Trident-Oberoi hotel and freed 143 hostages who emerged with harrowing stories.
Authorities said 30 bodies were recovered from the luxury hotel. Two terrorists were killed.
At one point, the terrorists turned their guns on journalists outside the hotel, slightly injuring one reporter.
The terrorist attack has struck at the heart of the freewheeling city, the engine of an economic boom that has made India a favourite emerging market. It is also home to the “Bollywood” film industry, the epitome of glamour in a country still blighted with widespread poverty.
At least 22 foreigners were among the dead, including three Germans, three Israelis, one American, one Australian, a Briton, an Italian, a Japanese, a Singaporean, a Mauritian, a Thai and a Chinese national.
Five were unidentified, Indian authorities said.
By Krittivas Mukherjee, Reuters and Jas Johal, Canwest News ServiceNovember 29, 2008
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