Thursday, November 27, 2008

Mumbai, India suffers multiple attacks; potentially largest incident worldwide since 9/11

In what is rapidly turning into “India’s 9/11”, at least 101 persons have died in at least twelve separate sniper and bomb attacks on a number of locations in Mumbai, India, including hotels, trains stations and theaters. The attacks occurred the day before Thanksgiving, Wednesday, Nov. 26, 2008. The attacks appear to be low-tech and coordinated among many individuals. The most visible target, often shown in the media, is the Taj Mahal Hotel. Many persons, including American and western visitors, have been taken hostage. Terrorists appear to have selected locations where they believed they would find westerners. A group called the “Deccan Mujahedeen” has claimed responsibility. It was not immediately clear if it has ties to Al Qaeda or to specific elements of the ongoing conflict with Pakistan.

There are many reports. Typical among these is a story in the Washington Post online this morning, Thanksgiving Day, by Emily Wax and Debbi Wilgoren from the Washington Post Foreign Service, “Indian troops work to free hostages: series of attacks in Mumbai leave at least 101 people dead”, link here. Wikipedia already has a specific entry early Thanksgiving morning, here.

Mumbai used to be called Bombay, and I recall the city on “Global Pursuit” board games as a boy.

Other attacks have occurred in Asia. The largest may have been in Bali, Indonesia, in October 2002. Shortly thereafter, and for a long time continually afterward, a number of suspects were apprehended and eventually tried (the Wikipedia details are here. A few days after the attack I received a bizarre personal email about another “club” in Bali (geographically near the attacked one) myself; it did not look like typical spam and I had no idea why it was sent to me other than the controversy of my own websites, and I passed it on to a local FBI. (I make no claims of “protecting sources” in a case like this even though I support journalistic shield as a public policy that should be followed; see my Issues blog March 3, 2008). There were other attacks in Indonesia Christmas Eve 2000, before 9/11 but after the USS Cole incident in October 2000.

The Mumbai attacks seem as large as London and Madrid and could eventually become the largest terrorist attack sequence in fatalities since 9/11. As of later Thursday, the death toll was 118. In July 2006, some attacks on Mumbai resulted in 187 fatalities.

Picture: Pearl Harbor, at National Museum of American History, Smithsonian, Washington DC.

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