Terrorists knew Taj hotel layout too well: NSG chief (Lead)

November 30th, 2008 - 7:10 pm ICT by IANS  

Manesar (Haryana), Nov 30 (IANS) The terrorists who attacked Mumbai knew the layout of the Taj hotel “too well” and tricked commandos, stretching the gun battles for nearly 60 hours, National Security Guard (NSG) chief J.K. Dutt, who led the anti-terror operation, said Sunday.”They knew the layout plan of the hotel (Taj) too well. They entered rooms where there were too many doors,” Dutt told reporters at the NSG headquarters at Manesar in Haryana, 20 km from Gurgaon.

“The Taj is a heritage building built in a 20th century manner. There are columns, domes, corridors and all that is not linear. Otherwise they could have been trapped in a corner easily,” Dutt said.

The hotel, a landmark 105-year-old building that has become a symbol of Mumbai, was the last flashpoint to be secured by NSG commandos Saturday after terrorists took over three places in south Mumbai — the Taj hotel, Oberoi Trident hotel and a Jewish centre Wednesday night.

The battle between the commandos and the terrorists at the Taj lasted for nearly 60 hours, till Saturday morning.

He said the terrorists navigated inside the hotel more easily then the NSG commandos who were new the mammoth hotel with over 500 rooms.

“We found there was a spiral staircase. One of the terrorists had taken position on that to protect them from the rear side. That is why it became very difficult to dislodge them. We had to keep changing our strategies,” Dutt said.

He also lauded efforts of his search teams.

During the mopping up operation, he said the NSG found many unexploded grenades in the hotel after the commandos had killed the terrorists Saturday.

“With great care, our officers defused unexploded grenades found in the hotel,” Dutt said.

At least 183 people, including 22 foreigners, were killed when terrorists who India says came from Pakistan sneaked into Mumbai Wednesday night and struck at 10 sites.

Dutt thanked the media for their support during the operation to oust terrorists from various sites across Mumbai.

“I thank the media for their cooperation because we found (that) if we were working through the morning and night, even the media stayed at their posts and covered the operation,” he told reporters here.

Dutt said the media coverage gave the security forces advantage at times. But he added that there were occasions when they had to request the media to curb coverage of some action as they were not sure if the gunmen were using the visuals to their advantage.

“There were times when the media visuals were useful. But at other times, we had to request the media to not show visuals of the scene. They of course obliged. We thank them for that,” he added.

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