Mumbai: Following a heavy exchange of fire, National Security Guard (NSG) commandos early on Saturday gunned down three terrorists at the Taj Heritage hotel, DG NSG J K Dutt said, adding that operation Taj, codenamed Operation Cyclone, was almost over.
One of the terrorists, who was standing near the window, was killed when a security personnel shot at him while he attempted to lob a grenade.
"We found the dead bodies of two terrorists inside the hotel lobby. They had AK 47 guns on them," Dutt said.
However, he added that he can not confirm if the Taj has been cleared of all terrorists as the sanitisation process was still on.
"I can't say that our operation is over. To make sure that there is no other threat, we are still searching each and every room of the hotel," Dutt said.
"We are trying to contact the hotel guests," he added.
NSG had gunned down two other terrorists at the Taj last night, bringing up the total terrorist count killed at the Taj to five.
Firing at the Taj Palace had intensified as the commandos engaged the terrorists holed up inside the hotel in a close combat.
Early on Saturday several explosions were heard, following which a fierce fire broke out on the first floor and the coffee shop area on the ground floor of the hotel.
Fire fighters rushed to the spot to bring it under control as thick plumes of smoke emerged out of several
Fifty seven hours into war-like operation against terror, NSG says at least three terrorists are still holding the city’s iconic hotel to ransom.
While an all-clear was sounded at Hotel Oberoi-Trident and Nariman House – the other two flashpoints – the operation at Taj is still on.
AT THE TAJ
A chief of a Indian Navy commando unit flushing out terrorists at Taj said on Friday that he saw 12 to 15 bodies in one room. [READ: OPERATION TAJ]
"We found 12-15 bodies," the commander, whose face was disguised in a black scarf and sunglasses, told a news conference. The commandos found money, ammunition and an identity card from Mauritius thought to have belonged to the terrorists.
"We recovered $1200, AK series rifles, credit cards and Mauritian national identity card from Taj hotel," the commando chief said.
"We found a bag which contained dry fruits, large amount of ammunition, foreign money (dollars), seven fully filled magazines of AK rifles with extra rounds, grenades of different make, most likely made in China, seven credit cards of ICICI, HDFC, CITI Bank, HSBC etc," he revealed.
Twenty-four bodies recovered after the operation at the Oberoi-Trident hotel and all five hostages – including the Rabbi and his wife – were found murdered at the Nariman House.
Five terrorists were also killed in the Nariman House shootout.
The country's longest terror drama has claimed over 148 lives so far.
AT NARIMAN HOUSE
J K Dutt, who heads the NSG, whose commandos have fought the terrorists since Thursday morning, put the number of dead in three days of mayhem at 143 -- before the bodies of all five hostages were found along with those of two gunmen at the Jewish centre. [READ: OPERATION NARIMAN]
Ten of the dead and 22 of the injured are foreigners. They included Israeli Rabbi Gavriel and his wife Rivka Holtzberg, directors of Chabad-Lubavitch of Mumbai.
Also killed in the Nariman operation was NSG commando Gajraj Singh.
Commandos took control of Mumbai's Trident-Oberoi Hotel on Friday, but battles raged on with terrorists who were still holed up in another luxury hotel and a Jewish centre with about half a dozen foreign hostages. [READ: OPERATION OBEROI]
"The Oberoi Hotel and Trident are now under our control," the chief of the National Security Guard, Jyoti Krishan Dutt, said in Mumbai.
"Oberoi-Trident have been evacuated, we have killed two terrorists."
TOTAL RECALL: HOW IT STARTED
Several terrorists, probably two dozen and armed with grenades and automatic rifles, sneaked on Wednesday night into Mumbai, reportedly by boat and presumably from Karachi.
They divided themselves into several groups and quickly struck at 10 places in south Mumbai, including the Taj hotel, the nearby Oberoi-Trident hotel and the Jewish centre. Everywhere they opened indiscriminate fire and hurled grenades, killing people at will.
WHEN THEY WALKED FREE
On Friday, the commandos first took control of the Oberoi hotel and then the Jewish centre, sparking wild jubilation as thousands living all around the building took to the streets shouting slogans hailing the security forces.
Scores of hostages, many of them Westerners, Friday finally walked free from the two hotels as well as the Jewish centre after two nights and days of trauma and close brush with death. A few broke down while others were too stunned to react when the commandos found them, hiding in their rooms.
The NSG lost two men -- Sandeep Unnikrishnan and Gajendra Singh. On Wednesday night, 14 Mumbai police personnel were killed including the head of its Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS).
’THEY WERE REMORSELESS’
Indian marine commandos who battled terrorists at the Taj hotel, just across the road from the Gateway of India where terrorists had alighted by boat to begin their killing spree, said the gunmen were remorseless and well trained.
"Definitely they were trained. Not everybody can fire AK series weapons. Using such weapons and explosives, it is obvious they were trained somewhere," said a masked officer of the force.
"These people were very, very familiar with the hotel layout. It appeared that they had carried out a survey (of the hotel) before. And they were very determined. Remorseless."
The officer and his colleagues saw several bodies inside the Taj hotel.