Indian forces kill last gunmen in Mumbai

Troops began searching through Mumbai's Taj Mahal Hotel on Saturday after a raid by Indian commandos killed the last three gunmen who had been barricaded inside the building.

Hotel siege declared over after almost 60 hours

Relatives and neighbours attend the funeral of Haresh Gohil, 25, who was killed by gunmen near Chabad-Lubavitch centre in Mumbai. ((Gurinder Osan/Associated Press))

Troops began searching through Mumbai's Taj Mahal Hotel on Saturday after a raid by Indian commandos killed the last three gunmen who had been barricaded inside the building.

The 105-year-old landmark was the last of several sites that gunmen had under their control after launching a series of attacks Wednesday night across India's financial capital.

It's believed about 10 heavily armed assailants broke into smaller groups before they threw grenades and fired guns at people at two luxury hotels, a hospital, a Jewish centre and train station, killing at least 174 people and wounding 295.

Officials on Friday said they had found at least 30 bodies in one hall of the Taj Mahal Hotel. One soldier was killed during the raid, said the Indian special forces chief Jyoti Krishna Dutt.

Canadians looking for information on relatives in Mumbai can contact the Department of Foreign Affairs at 1-800-387-3124 from inside Canada or call 613-996-8885 collect from other countries.

"What happened is disgusting," said Suresh Thakkar, 59, who reopened his clothing store behind the hotel Saturday for the first time since the attacks.

"It will be harder to recover, but we will recover. Bombay people have a lot of spirit and courage."

Authorities searched for any remaining captives hiding in their rooms and began to shift their focus to who was behind the attacks, which killed 18 foreigners, including two Canadians, six Americans and one British citizen.

One of the victims has been identified as Michael Moss, a doctor from Montreal. He was just days away from returning to Canada after a month-long vacation. There's still no word on the identity of the second Canadian victim.

Outside the Taj on Saturday, a crowd of protesters waved their fists in the air and shouted "Our soldiers came and Pakistan ran away," — an apparent reference to growing suspicions that some of the attackers were linked to India's neighbour.

An Indian special police officer flashes the victory sign from a window of the landmark Taj Hotel in Mumbai on Saturday. ((Lefteris Pitarakis/Associated Press))

Ten gunmen are believed to have taken part in the attacks, according to officials. Nine were killed in the ensuing confrontations and one has been arrested, a Pakistani national named Mohammad Ajmal Qasam. He is being questioned by investigators.

The gunmen used sophisticated weapons and grenades, GPS technology and mobile and satellite phones to communicate, authorities said. Indian investigators believe many of the gunmen arrived in Mumbai through the port, using a rubber dinghy that was later found near the attack sites.

"They were constantly in touch with a foreign country," said R.R. Patil, deputy to the Maharashtra state's chief, without giving further details.

Islamist group responsible, India suggests

As the massacre was unfolding, a previously unknown group called the Deccan Mujahideen claimed responsibility in e-mails to media outlets.

However, Indian officials have suggested the attackers were actually from the Indian Mujahedeen, an Islamist group that has already killed more than 100 people in India this year.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has blamed "external forces" for the violence — a phrase sometimes used to refer to Pakistani militants, whom Indian authorities often blame for attacks.

India has previously accused elements in Pakistan — a Muslim nation that, along with Hindu-majority India, gained independence in 1947 — of supporting Islamist militants battling Indian forces in the disputed Kashmir region, and of complicity in bomb attacks elsewhere in India.

Reports in the Indian media Saturday pointed to the militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba, long seen as a creation of the Pakistani intelligence service to help wage its clandestine war against India in disputed Kashmir.

On Friday, Indian Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee said according to preliminary information, "some elements in Pakistan" were responsible.

"Proof cannot be disclosed at this time," Mukherjee said, adding that Pakistan had assured New Delhi it would not allow its territory to be used for attacks against India.

Pakistan, however, has denied any involvement by state agencies and promised to co-operate with investigations.

"If any evidence comes of any individual or group in any part of my country, I shall take the swiftest of action in the light of evidence and in front of the world," said Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari.

Islamabad last week offered to send the head of its spy agency to India to assist with the probe but later reneged, offering to send a lower ranking official instead.

With files from the Associated Press and Reuters