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Mumbai operation appears nearly over

  • Story Highlights
  • NEW: Police chief says last gunmen in Taj killed, authorities "sanitizing" hotel
  • NEW: National Security Guard head says more attackers could be inside
  • NEW: News coincides with end of gunfire at Taj, signaling potential end of siege
  • Death toll at 160 civilians, police and military, including 5 Americans
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MUMBAI, India (CNN) -- The last gunmen in a standoff at the Taj Mahal hotel in Mumbai were killed early Saturday, the city's police chief told CNN sister station CNN-IBN, but another official said more attackers could be inside the hotel.

"It's completely over, except for the fact that now we will start searching the hotel and sanitizing it against any explosives and against any other things that may have been left behind," police Chief Hussain Gafoor said.

The announcement coincided with the end of intermittent gunfire from the historic Taj, which has been the scene of a violent and drawn-out standoff resulting in numerous deaths and injuries since Wednesday.

It also signaled a potential end to two nights and three days of terror attacks targeting several high-traffic landmarks in Mumbai known to be frequented by tourists.

The casualty toll from the attacks reached 160 dead and 327 wounded Friday, officials said.

However, J.K. Dutt, director-general of the national security guard, said there could be more terrorists and that the operation was still ongoing.

Dutt also differed from Gafoor on the number of gunmen involved, saying three, not two, had been killed.

He appealed to guests hiding in their rooms to open their curtains to signal their presence to security officials, saying it would help police snipers determine whether someone in a room was actually a terrorist with a weapon.

The announcements came shortly after a fire swept through the ground floor, enveloping much of the historic building. By 8:30 a.m. local time, the fire was under control, CNN-IBN reported.

Dutt said the fire had been set by the attackers as a diversionary tactic

CNN-IBN also reported that someone had jumped from the hotel during the fire and appeared to be dead. It broadcast a picture of the body taken with a cell phone.

On Friday, scores of hostages trickled out of the Taj and the nearby Oberoi hotel; some had spent as many as 48 hours huddled with strangers in guest rooms, closets or darkened banquet halls.

It is still unclear who is behind the attacks, but the gunmen were men in their 20s who "obviously had to be trained somewhere," a member of the Indian navy's commando unit said Friday. Video Watch the commando talk about the attackers »

They fired at guests "with no remorse" and knew the layout of the hotels well enough to "vanish" after confronting security forces, the commando said.

British Parliament member Sajjad Karim was in a herd of people running from gunfire in the lobby of the Taj when another gunman appeared before them and opened fire.

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"From the very brief glimpse that I got of him, he was fairly young man of south Asian appearance, and he was wearing a smile on his face as he started to spray the bullets," Karim told CNN's Wolf Blitzer. Video Watch Karim describe the gunman »

Karim said he spent eight hours barricaded in a room at the Taj with 40 to 50 people before commandos rescued him.

But many did not make it out alive. The 160 who died included Westerners and Asians of all walks of life, including Indian police and military, five Americans and a British yacht magnate. Video Watch survivor say gunmen were targeting Brits and Americans »

Maharashtra state official Bhushan Gagrani said the death toll is expected to rise further. Eleven terrorists have also been killed.

Earlier, police said they found 36 bodies during a sweep of the Oberoi hotel; they killed two militants and freed hundreds of trapped guests.

Americans Alan Scherr, 58, and his daughter Naomi, 13, of Virginia died at the Oberoi. They were visiting India with a meditation group. Read more about those killed in the terror attacks

The bodies of five hostages were found at the Chabad House Jewish center, which houses the Mumbai headquarters of the Chabad community, a Hasidic Jewish movement. Commandos stormed the building through a hole blasted in the wall. Video Watch another day of terror in Mumbai »

After several hours of gunfire and explosions from inside, all went quiet, and CNN's senior international correspondent Nic Robertson said it appeared that the operation was over.

Mumbai Police Commissioner Hasan Gafoor told CNN-IBN that the gunman at the Taj was shooting and throwing grenades at security forces.

Gafoor said most of the attackers had been heavily armed. "They were carrying an AK assault rifle, one or two handguns and grenades."

Throughout the day, there were explosions, some blowing out windows at the 105-year-old landmark. Some guests have been able to get out of the building. Video Watch CNN's exclusive access to some of the wounded »

The identity of the attackers remained a mystery. Police said they came by boats to the waterfront near the Gateway of India monument and the two hotels.

Indian naval and coast guard investigators have determined that two vessels recently seized in the Arabian Sea have no links to the Mumbai attacks. A fishing trawler, however, remains in custody.

International hot lines

India: Mumbai: JJ Hospital, 91 22 2373-5555; Mumbai: St. George Hospital, 91 98 6905-0622; Mumbai: Police control room, 91 22 2262-5020, 91 22 2262-1855; New Delhi: Indian External Affairs Ministry: +91-11-23015300

Australia: Department of Foreign Affairs offers these numbers: In Australia, call 1-800-002 214. Australians overseas, call 61 2 6261-3305.

UK: The British Ministry of Foreign Affairs is directing concerned UK nationals to call 44 (0)20 7008-0000

U.S.: The State Department has established a Consular Call Center: The number is 888-407-4747.

For Canadians in India, call 1-800-387-3124. In Canada, call 613-996-8885.

The Press Trust of India, citing Union Cabinet Minister Kapil Sibal, reported that the gunmen had worked for months to prepare, even setting up "control rooms" in the two luxury hotels that were targeted.

Indian authorities said no one had claimed responsibility, although the Deccan Mujahideen took credit in e-mails sent to several Indian news outlets.

Interpol said it would send a delegation to India, and the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation wants to send a team, but India has not officially asked for its help.

Pranab Mukherjee, the external affairs minister for Maharashtra state, said the preliminary investigation "indicates that some elements in Pakistan are involved."

"Until the investigation is complete, it will be difficult to say where they came from and how they came," he said.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh also indicated that the gunmen came from Pakistan's largest city, Karachi, in a call with his Pakistani counterpart Friday.

In response, Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said he would send a representative from his country's intelligence agency to help with the investigation.

A British security source told CNN that British security officials are investigating why two bodies believed to be those of terrorists were found with British identification documents.

"Not everybody can fire the AK series of weapons; not everybody can throw a grenade like that," a commando said outside the Taj hotel. "It is obvious that they were trained somewhere."Video Watch an analyst says attackers had 'combat experience' »

The shell-shocked city woke Friday to television images of Indian soldiers rappelling down ropes from military choppers on to the roof of Chabad House.

The Chabad-Lubavitch International group said Rabbi Gavriel Noach Holtzberg, 29, made a phone call to the Israeli Consulate to report gunmen in the house.

"In the middle of the conversation, the line went dead," the organization said. His wife, Rivka, 28, was also killed.


The couple's toddler son, Moshe, escaped with his nanny, the organization said in a written statement. Video Watch a Rabbi vow that the community will raise victim's son »

The bodies of three other hostages were found in the building. Two gunmen died in the battle at Chabad House, CNN-IBN reported.

CNN's Andrew Stevens, Mallika Kapur, Harmeet Singh, Sara Sidner, Alessio Vinci, Reza Sayah and Paula Newton contributed to this report.

All About IndiaPakistanMumbaiTerrorismYousaf Raza GilaniManmohan Singh

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