Gunbattles raged between terrorists and commandoes and fresh explosions on Thursday rocked two luxury hotels -Taj and Trident (Oberoi)- after a night of terror targeting ten places in the country's financial capital killed over 100 people and injured over 300.
Sharp shooters of army, NSG and other security forces moved into Mumbai's landmark hotels to overwhelm an unspecified number of terrorists still holed out there after several residents were rescued in the wee hours.
Police believe that the number of terrorists could be three or four.
Raging fire and plumes of black smoke were seen billowing from the central dome of the century-old heritage Taj hotel opposite the Gateway of India this morning as firemen struggled to douse them. A guest stranded in one of the rooms said two explosions shook the building.
Another luxury hotel Trident was under siege with some terrorists holding some foreigners hostage. A tourist guide was worried about the fate of five Canadians he had put up in that hotel. Earlier in the night, explosions were heard in the hotel.
Exchange of fire intensified at Nariman House, a residential complex with a Jewish prayer hall, where also a hostage situation was prevailing. There were unconfirmed reports of a similar situation in Cama hospital.
As last night's terror incidents spread a sense of panic and fear in the metropolis, schools and colleges were ordered closed and the Bombay Stock Exchange will not function today.
Suburban trains and city buses operated normally but without usual rush. Except for cancellation of three international flights, domestic air services to Mumbai were maintained.
As gun fights raged, security personnel were seen summoning ambulances, an indication perhaps that some injured could be rushed to hospitals. A grenade explosion was also heard in the Trident Hotel.
One foreigner and several employees of the Taj Hotel were among those killed in the terror incidents, something unprecedented the country has witnessed for the indiscriminate firing indulged in by the terrorists who also took hostages singling out American and British passport holders.
Little known Deccan Mujahideen has claimed responsibility for the terror strikes in e-mails sent to some media organisations.
The terror attacks began between 9 pm and 9.15 pm with indiscriminate firing and bomb blasts, Deshmukh said.
Grenades were tossed by the terrorists who fired indiscriminately while storming the hotels, he added.
At least two sten guns have been recovered from the terrorists, the Chief Minister said.
"The operation(by security forces) is still going on," he said. Besides army and naval commandoes, Rapid Action Force personnel joined in the operations to rescue those stranded in the two hotels. Over 500 army personnel were moved from neighbouring areas like Pune and Deolali while 200 NSG commandoes were flown in from Delhi.
Deshmukh said it was not immediately known how many terrorists were involved in the audacious attacks that shook the western metropolis.
Two terrorists were believed to have escaped while two were gunned down at Chowpatty-Girgaum crossing while fleeing in a Skoda car.
Eyewitnesses said the gunmen had targeted foreigners after they kept shouting: "Who has U.S. Or U.K. Passports?"
"We have been told to stay quiet and lie low," a woman huddled with 35 other guests in Taj hotel told a television channel.
Trapped hotel guests were seen being rescued by fire department personnel perched on snorkels.