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This could have been India's 9/11

Insiyah Vahanvaty in Mumbai | November 29, 2008 02:57 IST

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Mumbai has been under terrorist attack for over 54 hours, and the whole city is waiting with bated breath for the horror to end. But for some, 'terrifying' doesn't even begin to describe it.

Hundreds of people have been trapped inside the Taj Hotel, Hotel Trident and the Nariman Bhavan since Wednesday night. A lot of these hostages are foreigners, who are scared stiff at this horrific experience in a foreign land.

They had been trapped and not allowed to leave; while hearing clearly the deafening sounds of the firing and grenades explode around them. Though some of them have been evacuated -- the terror of knowing that they were hostages to a bunch of terrorists who were repeatedly opening fire indiscriminately at innocent civilians -- is something that will remain with them forever.

A middle aged British evacuee from the Taj Hotel tells us about how he locked himself and his foreigner friends in his hotel room, in order to keep the trigger-happy terrorists out. Luckily, they were all in one room, having dinner, when the attack took place. By keeping themselves locked up together, they managed to get through the next 30 hours of insanity and terror.

"To say this was a frightening experience would be an understatement. It's an experience I wouldn't want my worst enemy to go through," says this freed hostage, standing right outside the hotel, while gunfire still rages inside.

While they were trapped in the hotel, this hostage could hear the gunshots and explosions; and if he peeped out of the window, the sight that greeted him wasn't the much advertised Gateway of India; it was one of commandos, fire engines, and, worst of all, dead bodies being carried out of the hotel.

At one point, he admits to being besieged by terrible thoughts, of whether this was India's 9/11, and of whether they would bring the Taj building down with civilians still inside´┐Ż

The only saving grace was that the hostages were able to stay in constant touch with their families, and didn't see any terrorists.

It is no secret that foreigners have been targeted during the past two days, and this report was only confirmed again. But one wonders how much this particular evacuee can be called a foreigner. Spewing fluent Hindi, this British national was born and brought up in Mumbai.

His only emotion is of relief at not being one of the bodies that were carried out during those terrible hours.

Unfortunately, the same can't be said for all the hostages.

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