Terrorists were ‘remorseless’, well trained: commandos (Lead)

November 28th, 2008 - 4:22 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan SinghMumbai, Nov 28 (IANS) A leader of India’s shadowy marine commandos said Friday that the terrorists who attacked Mumbai and killed over 125 people were “remorseless” and had been well trained.In the very first press conference by the Indian Navy commandos, who have kept a low profile for years, a masked officer said that he and his colleagues saw many people dead at the Taj hotel near the Gateway of India monument.

The officer, speaking in halting English with dark colour glasses covering his eyes, also said that the gunmen very well knew the layout of the Taj Mahal Palace and Tower hotel, a Mumbai landmark.

When the commandos entered the hotel, the terrorists fired indiscriminately from AK automatic rifles and hurled grenades at them, he said.

“Definitely they were trained. Not everybody can fire AK series weapons. Using such weapons and explosives, it is obvious they were trained somewhere,” said the officer dressed in a black commando suit. Seated along with him and standing behind him were more masked commandos.

“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 a very well determined lot. Remorseless,” the officer added.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said Thursday that the terrorists, who struck at several places in Mumbai Wednesday night after landing by boat, were based abroad. Indian officials have said that the gunmen came from Karachi in Pakistan.

The officer said the marine commandos — who are officially known as MARCOS (Marine Commandos) — were asked to take on the terrorists inside the Taj hotel. The only people to assist them with the layout were the hotel staff.

Some terrorists lobbed grenades from the seventh or eighth floors of the heritage hotel.

“At that point of time, we heard gunshots on the second floor and we rushed (there). While taking cover, we found there were 12 to 15 bodies… Some were seriously injured. At that point of time we also came under fire.

“Immediately we retaliated, fired back at the terrorists. The moment they saw us with weapons, they hurled grenades at us. Fortunately we could take cover and were unhurt.

“The moment the firing stopped there, I understood these terrorists were very well informed regarding the layout of the hotel. In no time they had vanished from there and gone elsewhere.”

Later, the commandos exchanged fire with the terrorists on the second floor.

“We fired at them, they fired at us… But because the room was absolutely dark and they were accustomed to the darkness, and we had just got in, made it little difficult for us.”

In the process, two commandos were injured, one seriously.

The commandos quickly realised that the terrorists knew all the entry and exit points in the hotel.

He said the commandos found a rucksack with dry fruits (indicating the terrorists had prepared for a long haul), a large amount of ammunition, explosives, foreign money (dollars) and AK rounds. They had seven fully filled magazines and spare rounds, approximately 400 rounds and grenades as well.

Some of the grenades were of Chinese make.

The commando said the gunmen also had credit cards from Indian and foreign banks as well as an identity card. “I won’t be able to comment on their nationality,” the officer said.

Asked why it took so long for the commandos to flush out the terrorists from the Taj hotel, the command said: “The Taj had around 400 rooms if I am not wrong. And there was not much of staff. They also did not know the layout fully. So we had to go wherever we had to go on our won.”

Did the commandos kill terrorists?

“When bodies are lying all over, we are not looking who is dead and who is injured. There was blood all over. We had to move carefully to avoid casualties of civilians.”

The commandos said they managed to evacuate five to six injured people from the Taj besides 200 others. “We got out 200 people at 6 a.m. from the second floor of the (hotel’s) new building.”

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