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US confirms death of five Americans in Mumbai attacks


Washington : The US State Department late Friday updated to five the number of American citizens known to have been killed in the terrorist attacks in Mumbai.

The US officials have not released any names. Earlier Friday, they confirmed the death of two Americans.

“The consulate in Mumbai will continue to work with the Indian police until all missing American citizens have been accounted for,” said Gordon Duguid, acting deputy spokesman for the US State Department, in a statement.

The death toll at all 10 sites targetted by terrorists starting Wednesday evening has been put at 140 to 160 by nongovernmental estimates in India.

Two of the American victims were Alan Scherr, 58, and his daughter Naomi, 13, according to the Synchronicity Foundation, a religious group from Virginia. The foundation said the two were staying at the Oberoi Trident hotel, one of 10 places ambushed by gunmen in the Indian financial capital Wednesday evening.

Two other victims believed to have had US citizenship were Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and his wife Rivka, who were murdered by suspected Islamist militants at the Nariman House Jewish Centre southern Mumbai.

They were identified in broadcast comments by leaders of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement in Brooklyn, New York, where the couple had been members.

The Holtzbergs were in Mumbai carrying out missionary work and ministering to Mumbai’s Jewish community since 2003.

Another three or possibly four people were killed at the Jewish centre.

The New York rabbi, Yehuda Krinsky, who leads the groups missionaries, was quoted by the New York Times as condemning the “brutal murder of our finest”.

“Words are inadequate to express our outrage and deep pain at this tragic act of cold-blooded murder,” he said.

The rabbi and his wife left behind a two-year-old son, Moshe Tvzi, who was saved by his quick-thinking nanny on Thursday when she hid with him in a room after the gunmen stormed into the Nariman House.

The Scherrs were also on a spiritual mission to India, and were part of a group of 27 comprising four Canadians, seven Australians and 16 Americans. The foundation’s spokeswoman Bobbie Garvey told a news conference that four Americans were wounded, but could not provide further details.

Alan was described as “a passionate Vedic astrologer and meditation teacher who inspired many people to begin a journey of self awareness and meditation.”

The identity of the fifth American victim was not clear.