MUMBAI TERROR ATTACK Taj Mahal Hotel burning in flames





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Uploaded on Nov 27, 2008

Terrorists targeting U.S. and British tourists struck Mumbai's iconic Taj Mahal Palace and Tower, a hotel favored by visiting royalty, rock stars and tycoons since it was built by Jamsetji N. Tata, founder of Tata Group, in 1903.

Gunmen armed with rifles and grenades stormed the century- old building in India's biggest terrorist attack against foreign tourists, taking hostages and burning rooms that once accommodated the likes of Mick Jagger, Jacqueline Onassis, Yehudi Menuhin and Prince Charles, according to Tata Group's Web site. A black-and-white photo on the site recalls the time the Beatles' George Harrison checked in under an assumed name to study the sitar under Ravi Shankar.

The hotel was a key target in coordinated attacks overnight across Mumbai that killed at least 101 people and injured 287. Gunmen armed with rifles and grenades stormed the Taj, Oberoi and Trident hotels. About 40 people are being held hostage at the hotels, the Press Trust of India reported.

``The attacks in Mumbai are going after the country's tourism industry, spreading fear to Western tourists and businesspeople,'' Reva Bhalla, director of geopolitical analysis at Stratfor, a private intelligence company based in Austin, Texas, wrote in an e-mail.

As smoke billowed from the 565-room Taj, emergency services evacuated some guests via ladders. Firefighters worked to control a blaze at the hotel, which houses antiques and artworks collected over more than a century.

The $6,000-a-night Grand Presidential suite boasts Qing- dynasty Chinese ceramics and a Louis XV table. The neighboring Rajput suite includes a traditional Indian two-person swing, or jhoola, overlooking the harborThe attackers chose a target that stood as a landmark of Indian freedom since long before the last garrison of British troops lined up in front of the hotel prior to leaving the country after independence in 1947. Jamsetji Tata is said to have built the Taj Mahal after being refused entry to one of the city's best hotels, Watson's, which only allowed whites, the Times of India said in a 2005 article.

``The Taj is very much a symbol of India,'' operator Indian Hotels Co. said in a statement today. ``We will rebuild every inch that has been damaged in this attack and bring back the Taj to its full glory.''

Targeting foreign nationals at key tourist hotels and restaurants adds a new dimension to bombings in India, which this year have killed more than 300 people. An Islamist group called the Deccan Mujahadeen claimed responsibility for last night's attacks, PTI said.


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