A tense Mumbai remained on tenterhooks on Friday as security forces gave a major push to end the long and bloody terror siege by militants and rescue the trapped people.
The narrow lanes leading to the Nariman House looked nothing short of a war zone buzzing with heavily armed security personnel.
Initiating the final counter offensive operation, elite commandos of the NSG were airdropped onto the terrace of the Jewish residential complex even as they came under heavy gunfire from the building's fourth floor.
It took a while before the commandos could secure the terrace as well as the top floor of the six-storeyed building as there rapid fire from terrorists suspected to be the holed up on the fourth floor.
Once, the area had been secured, a reconnaissance helicopter capable of taking high-quality pictures was seen encircling the building for a couple of times before flying away. Residents including the elderly are believed to have been taken hostage by the terrorists whose number could not be confirmed.
Ambulances were put on stand-by along with fire tenders to cope with any eventuality arising out of the tense and nerve-wrecking situation.
Snipers too have been deployed waiting to nail down the terrorists in the first opportunity.
Intermittent gunfire erupted this morning in the under-siege Trident (Oberoi) hotel where a grenade explosion was also heard after an overnight lull as NSG commandoes cordoned off the building and choppers circled overhead.
Security personnel have been carrying room-to-room searches to clear the plush hotel of terrorists suspected to be holding people hostage. At least 30 hostages, majority of them foreigners, were rescued from the hotel complex.
The roads in South Mumbai, the city's financial hub which bore the brunt of the terror attacks, were deserted. Shop and commercial establishments in the Colaba area continued to be remain shut.
For the second day, wary people chose to remain indoors, hoping for an early end to the ordeal.
"My father did go to office on Friday but I asked by mother to stay at home as her office is in Colaba. We have not switched off our television for I don't know how many hours," said 25-year-old Sunanda.
RAF troops and other gun-totting security men were guarding the Taj Hotel, where NSG Director General J K Dutt said that the operations were by and large over.
Earlier, during the night, the situation was no less dramatic with three grenades being lobbed by the terrorists even as the Army continued to maintain tight vigil to check attempts, if any by the militants, to escape taking advantage of the darkness.
Curious on-lookers sat on nearby rooftops and crowded the streets near the Colaba market area and stayed up throughout the night.
During the day, they could be seen jostling for space along with an entire army of journalists and camera crews.