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When South African commandos came to the rescue

November 29, 2008 07:14 IST

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Six South African commandos were having dinner at a restaurant when terrorists struck Taj Mahal Hotel [Images] on Wednesday night. They handled the situation with aplomb, saving scores of persons from possible threat.

The lives of 150 fellow guests were saved by the commandos through their presence of mind and skills to handle pressure situations.

The commandos accompanying the South African cricket team, who had come to participate in the now-cancelled Champions League, were at the hotel's top floor restaurant 'Souk'. They quickly escorted all the 150 diners through the fire exit gate and safely out of harm's way

"We were having dinner. When we heard the gun fire, we were told that two gangs were fighting in the lobby. We were not particularly perturbed," a member of the South African commando team, Bob Nichols, said.

Nichols said that on hearing the sound of an explosion, they sensed it was a terror attack. They saw the terrorists running around the hotel, firing indiscriminately and exploding grenades.

"We realised that the area is not secure. We imagined that there is a good possibility that they (terrorists) may try to make their way to the top of the building where we are," he recalled.

Nichols said the team, after gathering information as much as they could from outside, decided to secure the area themselves.

"As there was lots of glass (in the restaurant), it was difficult to secure. We found a conference room next door, where there were lots of people. So we moved everybody from the restaurant to the conference room. We barricaded ourselves.

"We used whatever we could to block the doors, kept everybody away from the windows. We also told everybody who we were and explained what we were doing," he said.

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