Australia offers counter-terror, as one Australian killed in Mumbai

November 27th, 2008 - 6:34 pm ICT by IANS  

Sydney, Nov 27 (IANS) At least one Australian national was killed and three injured after terrorists Wednesday night wreaked havoc in south Mumbai, killing at least 101 people and injuring 250.A 49-year-old Australian, Braid Gilbert Taylor, has been confirmed dead and there are unconfirmed reports of another Australian killed.

Describing the attacks as “murderous”, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said Australia was ready to help India in every possible way.

“We stand ready to assist India in any way it needs right now. We are offering through the Australian Federal Police, assistance with counter-terrorism, and forensics policing, to the Indian authorities, and any other assistance which may be of direct relevance at this time,” Rudd told Australian parliament Thursday.

“Whichever group has perpetrated this attack, they are cowards, absolute cowards, and murderers. This cowardly attack on India’s stability, peace and democracy reminds us all that international terrorism is far from defeated, and that we must all maintain our vigilance,” Rudd said.

The Prime Minister also warned that there could be more Australian casualties.

A 24-year-old Sydney student, Katie Anstee, has undergone surgery after a bullet shattered her femur bone as she dined with her boyfriend, David Coker, who suffered minor bullet and shrapnel wounds, at cafĂ© Leopold of Australian writer Gregory David Roberts’ of ‘Shantaram’ fame.

Coker’s father was quoted in the local media as saying: “He lay on top of her until the shooting stopped and then picked her up and carried her outside and saw a gunman about 15 metres away and said he’ll never forget the look - (he) looked at him and (the gunman) looked at Coker and he said ‘he didn’t shoot me dad’.”

Australian Steve Smith told Channel Seven that he saw two gunmen toss grenades into a restaurant at the Taj Mahal Palace hotel, where he was having a beer just hours earlier.

“Then they opened fire for about 10 minutes with AK-47s (semi-automatic assault rifles),” Smith told the Seven Network.

Meanwhile, one member of a 12-person New South Wales state government trade mission, who had been staying at the Oberoi Trident hotel, remains unaccounted for.

Acting Foreign Minister Simon Crean told reporters, “The Australian Government unreservedly condemns this indiscriminate and cowardly terrorist set of acts… We, of course, express our deepest sympathy and condolences to the victims and to their families, and we also express our fundamental solidarity with the Indian Government and its people. This is an appalling assault on the people, and the stability and the democracy of India”.

In India, there are about 2,100 Australians and 300 are said to be in Mumbai.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) has reissued the travel advisory Thursday evening urging Australians to “reconsider your need to travel to India” and “avoid travel to Mumbai at this time”.

Opposition Leader Malcolm Turnbull told the local media, “[India] is a very successful economy and to see these criminals trying to disrupt that in a mad destructive way is tragic and our hearts go out to the people of Mumbai, to all of the people who have been hurt, to the Australians who were there but also to the whole of India”.

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