Terrorists use boats to reach Gateway of India


New Delhi : India’s most audacious terror attack began when a group of men carrying a huge quantity of arms and ammunition got off at the Gateway of India jetty, Mumbai’s most identifiable landmark, and literally crossed the road to begin the night of mayhem.

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Intelligence sources said the terrorists landed at the Gateway of India, across the road from the 565-room Taj Mahal Palace and Tower Hotel, one of the seven places in the city they laid siege to, Wednesday night.

After having alighted at the jetty, the assailants went about their task commandeering vehicles to attack the Chhatrapati Shivaji railway station, the Leopold café and enter the Taj and the Oberoi Trident hotels where they continue to hold tourists as hostages.

At any given point, the jetty at the Gateway of India has 2,000 boats. Though the popular tourist spot is also manned, they still managed to get through.

“We know they arrived at the jetty and then began targeting popular sites in south Mumbai. We have yet to establish if they came in from sea routes from Karachi,” a top intelligence functionary told IANS, speaking strictly on condition of anonymity.

Notwithstanding the scale of the operation and the degree of coordination involved in the attack which saw 101 people being killed and 250 injured, the Intelligence Bureau had no inputs of this attack.

According to home ministry officials, it was a meticulously planned operation and the assailants were well armed and knew exactly which places to fan out in.

“Unlike previous terror attacks in cities across India this year that involved planting bombs, this time around gunmen have been at the forefront lobbing grenades and firing from their AK-47 assault weapons,” said a senior official.

“The attackers call themselves the Deccan Mujahideen but we have not heard of such a group and we don’t know if it is genuine. But we understand that some of the terrorists spoke Hindi from eyewitnesses,” said another intelligence official.

Even in the March 2003 serial blasts that killed over 250 people, terrorists had smuggled explosives like RDX through sea routes that landed in coastal areas of the state.

Mumbai has been a regular target for terrorists since 1993, with six major attacks since then.

The last attack occurred in July 2006 where nearly 200 people were killed and more than 700 injured in coordinated attacks in packed commuter trains.