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Two dozen terrorists involved in attacks: IB

Vicky Nanjappa in Mumbai | November 30, 2008 15:33 IST

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While it is astonishing that a handful of terrorists managed to keep the country on edge for three days, there are conflicting reports on the number of terrorists who undertook the Mumbai terror attacks. While the Mumbai police claim that ten were involved, the National Security Guards says it was eight. Both agencies have however confirmed that one of the terrorists involved in the operation was arrested.

Investigating agencies are trying to ascertain the number of terrorists involved. An officer in the Intelligence Bureau told that they have confirmed information that the attackers came in teams of three to Mumbai. In all there were around 24 members who carried out the attack on Mumbai, the IB, which is simultaneously investigating the case, says.

The first batch, comprising four members, entered Mumbai several weeks before the attack and had rented out places under the guise of college students. The second batch comprising four members came a few days prior to the attack and checked in at the hotels where they carried out the attack. The final batch came in two teams into Mumbai on D-day.

IB officials say that it would not have been possible to carry out such a large attack with just nine or ten men. The last of the two batches created havoc on the roads of Mumbai may have acted as a distraction for security agencies. This in turn helped the other terrorists to take position in the two five-star hotels and Nariman House and then hold the city to ransom.

The IB says that most of the persons who triggered the panic initially have escaped. Two men, who fired at the Leopold Caf�, gained entry into the Taj through the back doors and joined the existing team over there. While security personnel chased the men on the streets and also at the CST station on that fateful night, the terrorists within the hotels held hostages, which made it difficult for the police to immediately storm them.

By the time the mayhem on the streets died down, terrorists had settled down at the Taj, Trident (Oberoi) and Nariman House and with the help of hostages kept security agencies at bay for a long time. The NSG commandos, trained to handle such situations, arrived late thus making the job of the terrorists easy.

Although the IB confirms that no terrorists managed to escape from the Trident and the Nariman House, the same cannot be said about the Taj. Despite a heavy deployment of security forces and firing, two terrorists managed to gain entry into the Taj and this is an indication of how familiar they were with the terrain. They suspect that two may have managed to get away from the Taj after the rest of their team had taken position inside.

The IB however says that the remaining men (around 12) could have escaped out of the country when security forces were busy fighting the men who had taken people hostage.

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