As many as 125 people, including 14 police personnel, have been killed in the Mumbai terrorist attacks, the police said on Friday morning.
Indian commandos are still battling to flush out militants still resisting in three pockets in the country's financial capital on Friday, over 24 hours after ten near-simultaneous firings and explosions in the vicinity of posh hotels in South Mumbai.
Early on Friday morning, sporadic gunfire and explosions continued at a Jewish center. Police said militants were also still holed up at the Taj Mahal hotel and the nearby Trident Oberoi hotel along with an unknown number of hostages.
Commandos killed at least three gunmen at the Taj Intercontinental Hotel late on Thursday and were sweeping another luxury hotel and a Jewish residential complex in search of hostages and trapped people a day after terrorists stormed targets across southern Mumbai.
Occasional bursts of gunfire and explosions were heard from the Taj and the nearby Hotel Trident Oberoi as commandos from the National Security Guard (NSG) threw a ring around the two places and the Nariman Bhavan, a Jewish residential complex, to isolate a small number of gunmen holding hostages, foreigners included.
At last three terrorists were killed at the Taj and one is still holding out, news agencies reported.
"There is one terrorist in the Taj (hotel). He has been injured and I think we will be able to mop up the operation there very quickly," said J K Dutt, Director General of the elite National Security Guards commandos.
Three suspected terrorists, including a Pakistani national, were arrested from the Taj hotel late Thursday night.
All hostages have been freed from the Taj hotel, one of the first of 10 targets of the terrorists.
Union Science and Technology Minister Kapil Sibal said earlier that terrorists had set up control centers inside the two hotels and the operation to flush them out would be over soon. Government sources say security forces are now preparing for a final assault on the Oberoi and Nariman Bhavan.
At least two or three terrorists are holed up in Nariman Bhawan (House), said Dutt. Reports say four Israelis were among the seven people evacuated from Nariman Bhawan, a Jewish residential complex.
Dutt said the entire operation has slowed down as the commandos are taking precaution for the safety of the holed-up people in all the locations.
"Our first objective has been to ensure safety of the hostages and we have been able to get 145 rescued from the Taj. But after that, the going has been a little slow because each room will have to be sanitized and each room is checked," he said, adding that his commandos were "in total control of the situation" at Nariman Bhavan.
Two grenade blasts were heard at Nariman House early Friday morning. PTI reports at least six terrorists are suspected to be hiding in the three-story Nariman House.
Huge flames billowed from an upper floor of the Oberoi hotel, where about 200 people are been trapped, after terrorists exploded grenades and set the roof on fire.
Dutt said two terrorists are holed up in the eighth floor of the Oberoi but the Trident section of the hotel has been cleared.
"As far as Trident is concerned, we have been able to completely clean up and we do not have any report of any terrorist being holed up over there. As far as Oberoi is concerned, yes, we have engaged two terrorists on the eighth floor," he said.
The NSG's fight against terrorists is "almost coming to an end", said Mumbai's police chief Hassan Gafoor.
Around two dozen militants in their early 20s, armed with automatic rifles and grenades and carrying backpacks full of ammunition, had fanned out across Mumbai on Wednesday.
At least six foreign nationals and eight terrorists have been killed in the gun fights since Thursday night.
(Xinhua News Agency November 28, 2008)