Australian bride, Indian husband trapped in Mumbai terror attack

November 27th, 2008 - 2:36 pm ICT by IANS  

Sydney, Nov 27 (IANS) An Australian bride and her Indian husband managed to escape a blast in a popular restaurant in the Indian city of Mumbai and narrowly missed being taken hostage at a hotel when terrorists struck. But Chloe Papazahariakis and her actor husband Puneet Vasistha still got trapped in Mumbai’s night of terror. After two narrow escapes, the couple, who were in Mumbai to celebrate their wedding, were stuck with their friends in a restaurant close to the iconic Taj Mahal Palace and Tower Hotel, which was commandeered by terrorists Wednesday night. At least 100 people were killed as terrorists laid siege to at least seven places in India’s financial capital.

They were forced to stay inside the Pencharatna restaurant in south Mumbai as security forces battled outside with militants.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, the wedding party had a drink at the Taj hotel but fortuitiously changed their mind about going to the Cafe Leopold, which was also attacked by terrorists Wednesday night. They then decided to go to the Pencharatna, which is owned by a member of Vasistha’s family.

Chloe’s father, the well-known Australian restaurateur Nick Papazahariakis, told the newspaper that “it was fate” that the wedding party was not blown up in the Leopold cafe that was attacked by terrorists Wednesday night.

“We were supposed to go to the Leopold restaurant, where the first bombing was, and we were around the corner at the Taj (Mahal hotel) having a drink earlier in the evening. We decided we didn’t want to go to Leopold and so we left the Taj Mahal hotel and we were all having dinner and then the news of the attacks came.

“They said they’d just bombed Leopold restaurant, and we all looked at each other and thought, ‘We’re supposed to be there for dinner’.”

Before getting trapped inside the resturant as a gunbattle began between security forces and terrorists, Chloe told the Sydney Morning Herald: “I’ve just moved to this beautiful city to marry my husband… and I’ve got about 20 friends here for the wedding in the midst of all this chaos.”

“We just can’t believe it,” she added.

“They are targeting every suburb in this city but the most tragic thing is that for the first time ever they are targeting big-time foreigners and five-star hotels.

“… They’ve got hand grenades and police are very worried they are suicide bombers. They are on a rampage - it’s full-on and they are not stopping,” Chloe said.

The most audacious terror attack in Mumbai began Wednesday night, when militants attacked high profile landmarks, including the Taj Mahal Palace and Tower Hotel, Oberoi Trident Hotel, Metro Theatre and the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (formerly Victoria Terminus) railway station.

A hostage crisis continued Thursday with tourists and other guests being held by terrorists in the two five-star hotels.

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