It took just 10 young men armed with rifles and grenades to terrorize this city of 18 million and turn its postcard-perfect icons into battlefields until security forces ended one of the deadliest attacks in India's history early Saturday.
After the final siege at the luxury Taj Mahal hotel, adoring crowds surrounded six buses carrying weary, unshaven commandos dressed in black fatigues, shaking their hands and giving them flowers. One of the commandos said he had been awake for nearly 60 hours since the assault began Wednesday. Another sat sipping a bottle of water and holding a pink rose.
"What happened is disgusting," said Suresh Thakkar, 59, who reopened his clothing store behind the hotel Saturday for the first time since the attacks. "It will be harder to recover, but we will recover. Bombay people have a lot of spirit and courage."
The bloody rampage carried out by suspected Muslim militants at 10 sites across Mumbai, the nation's financial capital formerly known as Bombay, killed at least 195 people and wounded 295. Among the dead were 18 foreigners, including six Americans.
Orange flames and dark smoke engulfed the Taj Mahal after dawn Saturday as Indian forces killed the last three militants with grenades and gunfire. Hours after the fire fight, parts of the landmark hotel were in shambles, its corner facade charred black and a red carpet leading to double doors littered with broken glass.
"Suddenly no one feels safe or secure," said Joe Sequeira, the manager of a popular restaurant near the Oberoi hotel, another site targeted in the attacks. "It will take time. People are scared but they will realize it's no use being scared and sitting at home."
While soldiers scoured the massive 565-room Taj Mahal for any remaining captives and defused booby traps, a city known for its resilience in the face of tragedy began mourning and cremating its dead. At least 20 killed in the fighting were members of security forces.
A previously unknown Muslim group called Deccan Mujahideen, a name suggesting origins inside India, has claimed responsibility. But Indian officials said the sole surviving gunman, now in custody, was from Pakistan and voiced suspicions of their volatile neighbor. Nine other attackers were killed, they said.
Each new detail about the attackers raised more questions. Who trained the militants, who were so well prepared they carried bags of almonds to keep their energy up? What role, if any, did archrival Pakistan play in the attack? And how did so few assailants, who looked like college students, wreak so much damage?
Pakistan denied it was involved and demanded evidence for Indian charges. Islamabad has pledged to share intelligence with its rival neighbor but went back on its initial promise to send its spy chief to aid the probe, saying it would send a lower ranking official instead.
As officials pointed the finger at neighboring Pakistan, some Indians looked inward and expressed anger at their own government.
"People are worried, but the key difference is anger," said Rajesh Jain, chief executive officer at a brokerage firm, Pranav Securities. "People are worked up about the ineffectiveness of the administration. Does the government have the will, the ability to tackle the dangers we face?"