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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Dozens Killed After Terrorists Attack in India
Aired November 26, 2008 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ERICA HILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: More now for you on our breaking story out of Mumbai where hours ago terrorists launched a brazen attack apparently, targeting Americans and other westerners.
Here's a time line for you. Shortly after noon Eastern Time, teams of heavily armed gunmen stormed as many as ten locations across the Indian City of Mumbai, a city you may know better as Bombay.
The gunmen killed scores of people, wounded nearly 200. Mumbai, why was it a target? Here are a few reasons it could have been. It is India's financial and entertainment capital as you could see there from the map located on the west coast of the country.
This map is going to show you as well, these are four of the locations which were attacked today. They include two five-star hotels, the ones you just saw; the Hotel Oberoi and also the landmark Taj Mahal Palace. Also attacked, a popular cafe and busy railway station.
And the terror there has not ended. Clashes between police and the terrorists have been raging for hours. The city at this point as you can imagine is in chaos. In just the past hour, gunshots were reported at both the Taj and Oberoi hotels.
The hostages at the Taj Hotel were evacuated. A little known terrorist group which refers to itself as the Deccan Mujahideen is said to have claimed responsibility for the carnage but that is not a confirmed report. We're going to take a much closer look at that angle coming up.
But we want to begin for you tonight with CNN's Andrew Stevens who was actually staying at the Taj Mahal Hotel. He joins us now live from outside that hotel.
Andrew, and give us an idea what is happening at this moment there on the ground? You mentioned a little earlier it was somewhat more subdued outside the hotel. But I imagine the city itself is still in utter chaos.
ANDREW STEVENS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, it's still an incredibly tense situation around this city. But here at the Taj, it does seem to appear that tensions have diminished somewhat. The police chief has said that all hostages have been evacuated safely.
All guests in the hotel have been evacuated safely from this hotel behind me Erica. But it is still on fire. There are parts of the northwest corner of this hotel still on fire. But it has been a shocking night for the people here, indeed, it's been Mumbai's night of terror.
STEVENS: Bombs, gunfire, chaos, carnage. Mumbai, popular with Americans and the commercial capital of India erupted in a coordinated terror attack. It began around 10:00 p.m. local time. Armed with grenades, automatic weapons and explosives, an unknown number of extremists killed scores, including the city's anti-terrorism chief, and wounded hundreds.
At least ten sites were targeted, including two luxury hotels, cafes, a hospital for women and children, a movie theater and a train station. At the historic Taj Mahal Hotel where a large plume of smoke rose hours after the attacks began, witnesses say gunmen were looking for U.S. and British citizens.
An untold number of people have been taken hostage. The eyewitness accounts are chilling.
MANUELA TESTOLINI, EYEWITNESS: My colleague saw someone get shot just outside the glass doors of the restaurant. We heard gunfire. And we heard grenades. And there was a lot of panic; people running, people getting trampled.
STEVENS: The army has now moved into the hotel and across the city. Several terrorists have been killed or arrested. Others remain on the loose. Yasmin Wong is a CNN employee visiting Mumbai.
YASMIN WONG, CNN EMPLOYEE: We heard -- you know, consistent gunfire, grenades, smashing glass, all sorts of commotion. And I saw a guy outside my window above me, on my window who basically had smashed through the window and was hanging out of the window.
STEVENS: Both President Bush and President-elect Barack Obama issued statements, each strongly condemning the attacks.
Who's behind this? Local reports say a group named the Deccan Mujahideen has claimed responsibility although some officials say it bears all the hallmarks of Al Qaeda.
Mumbai is a Mecca for western businessmen and women, many of them from America. It's believed thousands of U.S. citizens are in a city that is now under siege.
STEVENS: And you're looking at live pictures there of firefighters here at the Taj trying to put out the vestiges of that fire. At one stage, about five hours or so ago, Erica, there were huge flames and huge flumes of smoke leaping out from the roofs, they are still bouncing in. And when we arrived here just at the crack of dawn there was still long tongues of flame licking out of that roof area, that balcony in fact right along the northeast road, to the dome at the far end, you can see a lot of burnt out areas. Certainly that fire is getting under control at the moment.
But still, certainly, not doused at this stage, Erica.
HILL: But just to confirm, again, those terrorists -- rather the hostages that you mentioned that we have said have now been released. Seeing them come out, were you able to count them at all? Do you have any idea how many people actually came out or is it not clear at this hour?
STEVENS: We haven't been able to get anywhere near it. When we first came down here there was virtually no security cordon here at all. It's actually quite bizarre. I got actually very close to the front of the building to talk to officials down there to find out what was going on.
And then about ten minutes before we heard this gunshot, they desperately started shepherding the media and -- there's a lot of onlookers here as well -- right back across this court here and we haven't been able to get close to the gates, to the guests that are coming out of it.
But we didn't see any visible signs of injuries. And we saw a lot of people, obviously, in evening dress in dinner jackets. They were in the hotel dining when the gunmen broke in and they were taken hostage. They were -- they were kept inside the building for several hours.
It must have been absolutely a terrifying experience. They came out. I haven't been able to get an accurate number. But it did seem to be several dozen at least.
HILL: All right, Andrew Stevens, we'll be checking in with you throughout the hour, thanks.
The big question for so many tonight, is just who is behind these attacks? Among the new details we are getting in, is this chilling picture. This comes to us from Sky News. It shows an armed man who is believed to be one of the assailants and, frankly, the look on this young man's face is chilling.
It is unclear how many terrorists took part in today's attacks. And even though that obscure terrorist group, Deccan Mujahideen, has claimed responsibility, U.S. officials have not confirmed that claim.
CNN's Barbara Starr joins us. Barbara, what kind of intelligence is the U.S. government looking at right at this hour?
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, Erica, the U.S. government, U.S. intelligence services, intelligence services around the world, looking at this, very concerned, because they, frankly, do not know what has really transpired here and who may be behind it.
Deccan Mujahideen is the group claiming responsibility. But there is another group, I must say, that they are looking at, a group called Lashkar-el-Taiba (ph); they are a South Asian Islamic fundamentalist group. They have carried out attacks before. But here is the possible game-changer. Were these attacks really targeting American and British citizens? That has not happened in India before. That would be a big concern right now, beyond everything else that has happened.
How will they begin to determine this? They will look at the weapons, the training, the coordination, the communication. Who had the ability to launch such a well-coordinated attack against so many targets without anyone in the Indian government apparently realizing that all of this was about to go down? Erica.
HILL: Some chilling details that, as you said, Barbara, they will be poring over. Barbara Starr thanks.
We want to bring in now Paul Cruickshank who is a terrorism analyst and fellow at the New York University Center on Law and Security and Ken Robinson also joining us; he is a security analyst and former military intelligence officer.
Ken, I want you a question I think David Gergen brought up in the last hour of our show, talking about three countries bleeding (ph) together, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq. If India is drawn in here, the question was, can, basically, can we, can the western world, can the U.S., get out of this?
How do you deal with that when you could potentially be facing this enormous problem centered in one area that is so difficult to control and understand?
KEN ROBINSON, SECURITY ANALYST: Well, I think there is an opportunity today for the United States that it hasn't had in the last eight years. And that is, the reaction that we saw throughout the world to the United States elections was one of optimism. And the optimism was that there was a potential policy change. That policy change might include shaping the behavior of our allies to cooperate more heavily with us.
The issue is reaching out to these disenfranchised groups, these populations within the countries you just mentioned, because without disenfranchised groups and without hopelessness, it's very hard for terrorists to recruit and retain and convince someone like that young man with that crazed look on his face to carry out a terrorist attack.
We always have to differentiate between the person carrying out the attack and the sponsor of the attack.
HILL: So the question -- I was going to say, the question becomes, of course, who is the sponsor of that attack? And I want to bring Paul in on this question. Because Ken makes a good point about the optimism and then there was so much positively, but also there have been threats since Barack Obama won the election, that there will be an attack prior to his assuming the presidency.
So who potentially could be supporting this attack? Is it in fact, Al Qaeda? PAUL CRUICKSHANK, NYU CENTER ON LAW AND SECURITY: Well, it could be. It could be a group affiliated with Al Qaeda. No one's really heard of the Deccan Mujahideen. I think it's unlikely that this group carried out this attack.
John McLaughlin in the last segment called this India's 9/11. I was speaking to somebody, who saw some of these attacks earlier today and he said if this attack happened in New York City it would be like going to the Ritz Carlton, the terrorist coming to Ritz Carlton going to the Sheraton and then going on a rampage in Times Square and then off into the Upper East Side. This is a very large, well-planned attack.
There are two groups which I think people are going to be talking about in the next 24 hours. One is an indigenous Indian group called the Indian Mujahideen, which has been responsible for a wave of attacks across India in the last year. They said in statements they will not stop this violence until India decouples itself from the United States, their strategic relationship.
But it could also be a Pakistani militant group, maybe a Kashmiri group. Barbara Starr was mentioning Lashkar-el-Taiba, this is a very well-organized group with a foot print across Pakistan with very, very close ties to Al Qaeda and those ties have become much closer in the last several years.
HILL: Well, those ties are there, but also I want you to bring back something you just said, what this businessman you spoke to talked about, basically the range of attacks, or geographically how widespread they were but yet how well coordinated they were which we've been talking about. The fact that no one saw this coming, we keep hearing that and also we've learned that security was just recently sort of lessened at the Taj Hotel.
We've also learned that two, perhaps three of the top anti- terrorism folks in Mumbai were killed. Does this perhaps point to an inside job of some sort, someone who may have been involved who could keep it from being known?
CRUICKSHANK: There are lots of rumors flying around. But some of these police cars were going around, and people were opening fire on civilians from the police cars. That's adding to the rumor mill at the moment in Mumbai. I think it's very, very early to tell.
There'll be an investigation into all of this. And sort of look at the -- has there been other claims of responsibility? This group, Indian Mujahideen in the past, has often actually e-mailed reporters just before the attacks, so there will be an investigation into that.
HILL: Ken, Andrew Stevens mentioned recently actually just at the top of the hour, our reporter on the ground there in Mumbai, that when he got to the Taj Hotel, there was no really security cordoned off. In fact, it wasn't until just of probably a little over an hour ago that they actually started moving people back. There were plenty of onlookers. When you hear details like that does it concern you at all in terms of whether or not some intelligence, some evidence there, may have been compromised?
ROBINSON: Certainly, the problem that you have is there's two things that happened simultaneously; the crisis and then the consequence management. And what you saw on the ground was the crisis management didn't look like it had a leader. And that makes sense when you consider the CT the counterterrorism chief had been killed 12 hours prior.
But also, they're not as well-trained as counterterrorist forces and police forces in the west. They don't react with the same level of aggressiveness. We didn't see that in any of the b-roll.
HILL: Ken, when you look at the attacks today and the targets, we have the Taj Hotel, the Oberoi Hotel, a major railway station, major terrorists attacks happening around the world. Does the U.S. need to reassess our own security and look closer at so-called soft targets like hotels, perhaps like even railway stations?
ROBINSON: This is a great question because it goes to the heart of the objective. You know, the terrorist attack is not necessarily killing people, their objective is for people to change their way of life, to have a lack of governance because if they force us to protect everything, then we're not protecting anything.
That's why the strategy of the next government needs to be to attack hopelessness. Deepak Chopra on "LARRY KING" earlier tonight said something that was amazing. He said we need to go back and look at who sponsors the radical Islam, and where does that come from, how does that financing take place, and how do these countries engage each other, instead of engaging in the blame game.
That this name, Deccan, is a part of the plateau in Southern India. And it might be picked and chosen as a name for that Mujahideen group simply to be a veil away from what's really happening, which is likely the global Islamic grid of like-minded ideologic organizations which we call Al Qaeda and others who have franchises that are doing this for a different measure of effectiveness, economically affecting the west, as well as India, our largest democracy that we're partners with.
HILL: But we're going to have to leave it there. Paul I see you're shaking your head though in agreement and so I know I your there with Ken on that. We'll continue to talk about this as we continue with the show. Paul Cruickshank, Ken Robinson, I appreciate your insight tonight.
As we continue, things continue to change, details changing minute by minute. As we get this information in, we are bringing you the very latest developments; all this happening throughout the next hour.
We're also trying to answer some of the tough questions tonight, one of them concerning Al Qaeda, and whether or not the terrorist group could have played a role in these attacks.
So many of you are talking about this crisis on our blog; please continue to join the conversation. You can find it of course at ac360.com.
Also ahead tonight, the status of those hostages in Mumbai, some of them rescued in the past hour, are any of them Americans? And is anyone else still being held hostage? We are working our sources to find that out for you.
Also ahead, how the U.S. is responding to this crisis at such a sensitive time, dealing with both the incoming and outgoing presidents, keeping them both updated, both of them keeping a close watch.
All of the breaking developments right here as "360" continues.
HILL: More now on our "Breaking News;" the crisis in Mumbai, India, far from over at this hour. A little-known group calling itself Deccan Mujahideen is said to have claimed responsibility for the carnage. U.S. officials however, have not confirmed those reports. And one question on so many minds tonight could Al Qaeda have possibly been involved?
CNN's Kelli Arena is tracking down that angle. She joins us now. Kelli, are there any similarities between this attack and those led and fostered by Al Qaeda?
KELLI ARENA, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, there are. I mean, here are the things that stand out about this attack. It's far more sophisticated and coordinated than anything we've ever seen before in the region. The terrorists were specifically targeting westerners. And they hit targets that would harm the country's economy, basically the tourism industry.
So yes, it is similar to an Al Qaeda attack. And as you said, there is a group calling itself Deccan Mujahideen that is claiming responsibility. None of the Islamic militant groups in India have used that name before, but officials say labels at this point, not important.
What is more significant is that analysts believe that these terrorists may have gotten outside help and U.S. officials tell me that investigators are looking into that group that we heard about before, Lashkar-el-Taiba, it's called LET. It's a terrorist organization that originated in Pakistan and has a very long, violent history, and it does have ties to Al Qaeda.
All of this very much in motion right now Erica.
HILL: So then what is the benefit though, if Al Qaeda is involved here, to being involved in an attack like this? Is it simply expanding that web of terror? ARENA: Well, that's part of it. Al Qaeda and its affiliated groups, though, would really love nothing more than to distract the Pakistani military and intelligence forces.
So let's say, for example, it is LET. That would draw Pakistan into the mix. And so it diverts attention, which is exactly what Al Qaeda would love, because that's where Al Qaeda has been rebuilding, in those tribal areas of Pakistan so Pakistani forces get off their backs and on to someone else's.
HILL: So the plot then, should there be any concern that this plot could, in fact, extend eventually into the United States, because Americans may have been the target here?
ARENA: Well, at this point there is no intelligence to suggest that there's any U.S. connection. But when something like this happened, obviously intelligence forces around the world ramp up. I mean, and the U.S. does remain a target. I mean, just this morning, there was an FBI bulletin that went out warning of a possible attack against subways and trains in New York City.
Now, apparently, some information came in, back in September, indicating that Al Qaeda terrorists had talked about attacking. That information hasn't been substantiated, important to say, but the FBI warned its law enforcement partners here in the United States about it, and was especially concerned about the holiday season.
So obviously this is a global problem.
HILL: All right, we're happy to hear that it is at this point unsubstantiated when it does come to that threat.
All right, Kelli Arena, thanks.
ARENA: You're welcome.
HILL: Just ahead, speaking out against terrorism and how the U.S. State Department now is responding to the attacks in Mumbai. Also, November 26, of course, now a day that will never be forgotten. That is because this is the day they became eyewitnesses to terror.
We will have dramatic eyewitness reports from those who have lived through these attacks earlier today. That's just ahead.
HILL: We want to get you the latest now "Breaking News" to us coming out of Afghanistan at this hour. The Associated Press reporting a suicide car bomb in Kabul has exploded 300 yards outside of the U.S. Embassy. That information, again, coming from the Associated Press; they are getting this from the Kabul police.
All we know right now again, is that there are reports of a suicide car bomb exploding 300 yards outside of the U.S. Embassy in Kabul. We are sources on this one; we'll bring you those details as they come in. We do want you to get you back now though to the terror attacks in Mumbai. Today, Zain Verjee, CNN's State Department correspondent, joining us now with the latest. And so many people concerned because there had been reports that Americans were targeted and so many Americans believed to be in Mumbai at this point.
ZAIN VERJEE, CNN STATE DEPARTMENT CORRESPONDENT: Exactly. It's not clear whether any Americans were or are taken hostage, anyone is injured or killed. It's just not clear right now.
The State Department is saying they're trying to figure out what exactly the situation is on the ground. They've got consulate officials at hospitals, combing the situation there, and trying to see if there are any Americans injured.
HILL: And combing as well I would imagine the hotel records, --
VERJEE: The scene yes.
HILL: And to get an idea of how many people there. I heard a number earlier, some 3,000 people believed -- Americans believed to be was in the city of Mumbai or India itself?
VERJEE: It could well have been in India itself and a substantial number of those in Mumbai. I mean, Mumbai is a very popular city. You know, it's an economic giant.
It's sort of the movie making capital, you know, of the Indian world. Bollywood is there and the places that were targeted were being frequented by businessmen, tourists as well as celebrities.
HILL: And when it comes to specifically how the State Department is handling this, I know that you were briefed not long ago; Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice coming out and briefing the press. What has she been doing? Who has been she's been speaking with tonight?
VERJEE: Well, what's Secretary Rice has been doing today is essentially working the phones. She's been in touch with U.S. diplomats on the ground in India to try and get the lay of the land. She's been working on the phones here talking to the Indian Ambassador Zen in Washington, D.C. She spoke to President-elect Obama, and said that she promises to keep him fully posted and in the loop on the situation that is developing.
She briefed President Bush and has likely offered India help, if India requests it. The U.S. -- when the U.S. makes offers like that, India has to say yes we want it for the U.S. to go forward.
HILL: Which is the same thing obviously on U.S. soil, and no one would come in and help without being welcomed in and asked to contribute.
Paul Cruickshank, I want to bring you back in here. When we look at the way things are unfolding there, details we're learning from Zain and also what we're learning from Secretary of State Rice, what does the U.S. need to be doing right now to help this situation and to help the investigation without stepping on toes?
CRUICKSHANK: Well, it seems to be targeted against Americans so there may be an involvement by the FBI, of some point, other agencies maybe sent to go and help. They'll certainly offer that help to a very close ally.
But there's also a very careful diplomatic game that may have to take shape over the next few days. But certainly, if India thinks that Pakistani groups are involved in some way, there could be a lot of tension brewing in the coming weeks between those two countries.
HILL: And was that addressed at all in the briefing that you received from the State Department? Did they bring up the fact that there are of course, as we all know, tensions between India and Pakistan and the littlest thing of course can make those tensions escalate?
VERJEE: Well, yes, that's a very big concern of anybody who knows this region well. There are Hindu/Muslim tensions. That there are Hindu extremists, there are Muslim militants, there's the always explosive and dangerous situation of Kashmir that India and Pakistan have fought two wars over.
There are militants in Afghanistan. You know, groups operating from the Pakistani tribal areas. So it's -- the State Department and the diplomatic world will be looking at all this as part of a really much bigger scenario.
One thing we're learning, though Erica is the U.S. Consulate in Mumbai is saying that any U.S. citizens who have lost their passport, and need to travel, need an emergency passport, can go to the consulate, it will be open on Thanksgiving.
HILL: OK, I knew there's also an emergency number that we have been putting on the screen for folks that are concerned about loved ones.
VERJEE: Yes, I actually I remember off hand, it is 1-888-407- 4747.
HILL: Such an important number for so many people right now. Paul one last quick question for you; Zain brought up the point of this really being such a larger problem because -- and you talked about it as well -- India and Pakistan, Afghanistan as well, bringing that into the picture.
We talked about earlier with Ken Robinson this really being sort of now, a larger area. You can put these three countries into one. How significantly does that -- how much more significant, then, is the difficulty, if you will, of dealing with these terrorist groups, when you're looking at such a large region?
CRUICKSHANK: Well, that's exactly right, Bin Laden's global jihad, which I think we're talking about at the moment, is it doesn't sort of obey borders. It's happening in all sorts of countries in the Arab world, in the Middle East and in South Asia and certainly that there are deep connections between these conflicts in Pakistan, the tribal areas, also in Afghanistan.
And now this violence is sort of coming to India. I'd be surprised if there isn't some sort of connection between the attacks today and the tribal areas of Pakistan. Some of these indigenous Indian groups send all of their people there to get training.
VERJEE: And just to pick up on that the reason it's also such a dangerous moment is that, you know, India and Pakistan relations have gotten slightly better, --
VERJEE: You know, after the Asif Ali Zardari, the President of Pakistan has been making certain overtures to India -- almost historic in nature.
HILL: And the last thing you want to do is start backing away from that process at all, absolutely.
VERJEE: The Pakistan connection is there.
HILL: Zain Verjee, State Department correspondent, Paul Cruickshank, terrorist and analyst at NYU Center and Law Security, thank you both.
We do want to up date you now, too. We are just getting in new numbers in terms of the death toll in Mumbai. The Associated Press now reporting 101 people confirmed killed in this series of at least ten attacks today. We will bring you the latest from Mumbai.
CNN's Andrew Stevens standing by for us live after this break.
Also ahead, a test for President-elect Obama. What should he do in this situation? We will check in with former presidential adviser David Gergen for his thoughts next.
Still ahead, escaping with their lives -- eyewitnesses describe the terror when "360" continues.
HILL: They allegedly targeted -- apparently targeted Americans. They may be holding U.S. citizens hostage. And just a short time ago, some captives were let out of the Taj Mahal Hotel. Others, we're told, may still be captive at the Oberoi Hotel at this hour.
We are continuing to monitor the latest developments for you coming out of Mumbai. We will bring you those developments and that news as it happens.
President Bush and President-elect Obama tonight, both being briefed on these terror attacks. We're also told the White House is sharing information about the attacks with the Obama camp; basically they will be on the same page for all of these. Their teams are in coordination.
Joining us now, CNN senior political analyst and former presidential advisor, David Gergen.
David, having spend so much time in the White House, during similar crises overseas -- as we just mentioned, President Bush, President-elect Obama both getting the same information. Their teams are coordinating.
President Bush though is still the president; but so much attention on Barack Obama. What does he need to do right now to both support President Bush and also show the American people and the world that he can handle a terrorist situation like the one we're looking at now.
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Sure, Erica.
Well what he can't do, of course, is make policy and that really is up the president today, George W. Bush. But what he can should and is doing are three things. Get his national security team in place, make sure it's a formidable team. We'll hear their names early next week and by all indications it is going to be a very strong team.
Secondly he has to send a message publicly to terrorists in India and elsewhere that just as George W. Bush has been tough on terrorism, he will be do. That there's going to be a seamless transition in that sense -- I'm not sure he'll see this in quite the same terms. He puts much more emphasis upon diplomacy than does President Bush as a way to deal with this on soft power as well as hard power, if you would like.
But thirdly, very importantly is to reach out and talk to individuals so we know -- it has been unprecedented -- I find this very impressive the way that both the Bush administration and the Obama team are handling this transition; how much interplay, as you've just reported, is going on.
He's been talking regularly on the economic front to Secretary Paulson and to the Fed Chairman, Ben Bernanke. He's talking to Condi Rice, the secretary of state. He's been talking, we've learned, to the Indian ambassador. We know that he's been talking on background or on a periodic basis to people like Brent Scowcroft.
And Brent Scowcroft was Bush Senior's national security advisor, highly esteemed within the Republican Party and indeed internationally. The fact that he's reaching out to him and people like Brent Scowcroft to get an understanding of the world, I think speaks volumes about how productive he's using this quiet time away from cameras to try to get himself up to speed on these very difficult issues.
He does not bring a wealth of experience but he's learning very fast.
HILL: Although, as we're learning his assembling his team, surrounding himself with a lot of that experience. Which he is actually been slightly criticized for, not even slightly, has been criticized for.
I want to ask you this. Looking at this, though, as he is involved in this process away from the cameras, as you said, could what's happening in India -- not only could it but how could this change any of the decisions that he's making going forward in terms of putting those teams together and the way he's approaching his presidency?
GERGEN: Well, I think that -- one thing has been apparent, and that is -- as he's recognized the gravity of what he is facing as president, both domestically and internationally, he has really raised the bar for the kind of people he wants around him. He's putting heavy weights in place. I'm not sure that would been the case, had there been a more complacent view towards what he was facing or this hadn't suddenly ratcheted up, both on the economic front and now on the international front.
So I think it's a -- I think he's putting the very most talented people he can -- he's not playing the normal traditional political games of finding one of this, one of that, pleasing this interest group and that interest group; that happens especially in the Democratic Party. So I think that altogether what we see is very impressive.
How he will execute this, once he is in office -- here's the danger for him, if I just may take one more brief moment on this. The danger for him is that we've always understood there's an arc of instability and crisis in the world that stretched essentially from Israel, Lebanon, to the Mediterranean, over in to Pakistan and Afghanistan. The question is going to become, is that arc of instability going to stretch now into India? If that's the case, it's much more dangerous.
HILL: Much more dangerous and a much more daunting task.
HILL: David Gergen, always a pleasure. We appreciate you.
GERGEN: Thank you, Erica.
HILL: Just ahead, eyewitness to terror. A woman caught in the chaos joins us with her story.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
SMRITI MUNDHRA, EYEWITNESS: We're told to stay indoors, not leave our houses. Stay away from windows. I know that the people who are in buildings surrounding the Oberoi have been advised to keep their lights off and keep windows and blind closed.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
HILL: We are continuing tonight to follow this breaking news out of India where at least ten locations were targeted by gunmen just over 12 hours ago. We know at least 87 people have been killed.
A New York City film maker, Smriti Mundhra, is in Mumbai tonight. She said she could hear the bomb blasts and sirens from her apartment. She is with us on the phone.
Smriti, thanks for being with us. As I understand it, you actually heard some sort of a commotion as you were getting ready for bed. Take us through the scene. What happened to you next?
MUNDHRA: We were -- you know, we were getting ready for bed as a family and heard some noises and police sirens out in the street. And turned the news on and realize what was happening on the streets around our building. Since then, we listened to the news and trying to be as safe as possible, taking all the precautions that have been recommended by the police.
HILL: And was it initially -- I know you said you were watching the local news. Did they initially know the scope of the attacks and that this, in fact, appeared to be a terrorist attack? I heard reports earlier that they may have thought it was gang related.
MUNDHRA: Yeah, I think the details started emerging as the attacks expanded in other parts of Mumbai and the hostage situation started. So yes, I think, at the very beginning when I tuned in, people didn't realize exactly what was going on. I think to some extent they still don't. There's still not a lot of coverage about who's behind these attacks and why and how they're going to bring an end to the city's hostage situation.
HILL: So many of those questions we're --
MUNDHRA: A lot of things were --
HILL: -- all trying to answer tonight. There have been a number of reports that understandably just as it happened here in New York, after 9/11, that the phone systems were just overloaded. Have you been able to account for your friends and your loved ones throughout Mumbai?
MUNDHRA: Yeah, I have, thankfully, my Internet access is up and running so I've been e-mailing all of my friends. Actually been able to call some people and my family and friends there, all seem to be accounted for, thankfully.
HILL: But you've had to stay in your house, I understand, until further notice. I know a number of things, school canceled, understandably, in Mumbai today. Have you stayed there or have you tried to venture out in the neighborhood at all, see a little bit more now that the sun is up?
MUNDHRA: No, the only thing that I've done that, you know, I wasn't doing last night, was sort of opened the window blinds, I've poking my head outside to see what is going on in the street below. We're under pretty strong advisement, especially considering my family and I are all American citizens and American citizens, British citizens with passports, are par particularly being targeted so we're trying to be as cautious as possible and stay indoors and not really try to venture out for any reason.
HILL: Are you fearful at this hour? MUNDHRA: You know, I hate to say that I am, because I don't like to partake in sort of all of the hysteria. To be perfectly honest, I am a little bit. I don't plan on going anywhere, you know, at least until the situation has been resolved.
You know, in the hotels neighboring my building, and even beyond that, you know, I certainly don't think I'll be able to walk as freely around this neighborhood as I did yesterday morning, for example, so I don't know. I'm just going to sort of wait right now and see what happens. But right now, I have no intention of leaving the flat.
HILL: I think that's probably understandable to everybody watching. Smitri Mundhra, we're happy to hear though that you and your family and your loved ones are safe tonight. Thank you for taking some time to speak with us and paint that picture for us.
MUNDHRA: Absolutely, thank you.
HILL: Just ahead, our CNN correspondents on the ground in Mumbai will join us live. They will tell us what they saw, also get us caught up on the latest development including the hostage situations in Mumbai.
All that when "360" continues.
HILL: As we continue to follow breaking news for you out of India, you're looking at some of the pictures from this night of horror for folks in Mumbai. As many as 100 people are reported dead at this the hour. At least 200 others injured after a series of brazen attacks across Mumbai.
CNN reporter Andrew Stevens has just made it over to the Oberoi Hotel where there were new attacks this morning. He is joining us on the phone. And joining us from the Taj Hotel, another attack focus, is CNN's Mallika Kapur.
Good to have you both up.
Andrew, I want to start with you. You're back over at the Oberoi Hotel. You've just made your way over there. We had heard reports of gunfire, possibly coming out of there, just a little over an hour ago. Have you been able to learn what happened in those attacks at the Oberoi?
ANDREW STEVENS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I have confirmed there was gunfire about an hour ago. There is quite a heavy crowd here. And wrapped around hotel, or actually, partitioned about 200 meters away I guess. There are hostages inside the place, a hostage crisis.
The military is here but it doesn't seem to be or seem to look like a standoff. There is no activity, there's no attempt, certainly that we can see here of the military trying to move in. This looks at this stage like a stand off. But we do know there are international -- or there are foreigners in the hotel. An industry official at one of the hotel said there were three nationals from his country in there.
We can't get full numbers at the moment. The police on the ground aren't saying anything. They're saying it's a very delicate situation and -- here at the moment and --
HILL: Are they --
STEVENS: -- waiting to see what happens.
HILL: And were they confirming whether or not the people in the hotel are hostages or whether or not they're being told to stay in their rooms for their own safety?
STEVENS: It is a hostage situation in there.
HILL: And as we mentioned, Mallika Kapur is over at the Taj Hotel which earlier was the site of what we understand was a hostage situation. Thankfully there, Mallika, those folks have been evacuated from the hotel and as I understand it, anybody else who was inside.
What's the latest on that situation?
MALLIKA KAPUR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, the police commissioner of Maharashtra, he did tell CNN earlier that the hostage situation at the Taj Hotel behind me had been resolved and that people who were being held inside have been released.
Earlier in fact the CNN's team did see some people leaving the Taj Hotel, people who were dressed in evening clothes, people who were possibly here for dinner last night. They've obviously had a horrible, terrifying night in the hotel, but they have been able to leave the hotel this morning.
The focus at the Taj over the last hour or so we've been here, of course, is on getting that fire out. As you can see behind me, you can see thick smoke still coming out. You can probably also see cranes and lots of fire engines and people still really working to get the fire out.
So that is the latest situation at the Taj. But the hostage situation we are told at the Taj Hotel has been resolved --Erica.
HILL: Mallika, what about in terms of the city of Mumbai as a whole? We just spoke with a woman who was in her apartment, has been told not to leave. What are residents being told? What is the city like this morning, that morning after?
KAPUR: Residents are being told not to leave and they are listening to authorities, because when we came here this morning, the streets were absolutely deserted. In fact, I have to say there was a sense of a very eerie quiet and calmness in the city this morning. Very eerie indeed. You know, this area, Taj, we're not very far from the office district and this area on a weekday morning is just teeming with of people. There's barely a place to walk. When you're driving down from other residential parts of Mumbai, the traffic is insane.
This morning, there were barely any cars on the road, very few buses and the buses even, there's barely enough room to stand and today there was seats -- plenty of seats available. Schools and colleges have been shut. The stock market has been shut today. So definitely people scared, people staying indoors, people not really sure what might happen next.
HILL: Andrew with the authorities -- I know you've been speaking to authorities as well. Are they confident that they do at this point have the attacks under control and there will not be any further attacks in Mumbai?
We may have lost Andrew.
But Mallika, maybe I could pose that question to you. In the authorities that you've spoken to, how confident are they that they have this series of attacks under control?
KAPUR: Well, they're not really coming out and saying that they have the situation under control. They're not really saying that they don't have the situation under control, which of course is understandable at a time like this, because it's such a delicate situation. Authorities really don't want to care people further. They don't want to create a panic situation.
What they are saying is that the priority right now is to keep the city safe, to keep people safe; mainly to get people out of these hotels. After that, they're going to make sure that there aren't any further attacks and after that they'll wonder who did it, what happens next, whether there could be any more attacks.
But of course, in the meantime, security is very, very, very tight throughout Mumbai. Cars have been stopped at every couple of blocks. Security is very tight in an effort to not let this happen again.
HILL: Mallika Kapur and Andrew Stevens, thank you both and stay safe.
Up next, our other breaking story, a report of a blast outside the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan; we have the latest on that for you just ahead.
Plus, more from Mumbai, the Associated Press now reporting 101 people have been killed and a standoff continues at one hotel as we just heard from Andrew Stevens. We'll have more on that. The details when "360" continues.
HILL: The latest in the terror attacks in Mumbai, India, coming up. The Associated Press also reporting now at least 101 people have been killed.
First though, Gary Tuchman joining us now with some of the day's other news in this "360 Bulletin". Hi, Gary.
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Erica hello to you.
More now on our breaking news out of Afghanistan. The Associated Press is reporting a suicide bomb has exploded outside the U.S. Embassy in Kabul. The city's police chief tells the AP one person has been killed, six others wounded. The embassy is hosting a Thanksgiving running race. It's 9:25 in the morning in Kabul there and many Americans were entering the compound at the time of the blast.
A Los Angeles returned a guilty verdict of three misdemeanor counts today in the MySpace suicide case. Lori Drew was accused of posing as a teenage boy online to harass her daughter's 13-year-old friend Megan Meier who committed suicide. The jury declared a mistrial on the fourth charge against Drew who now faces up to three years in prison.
Barbara Bush is recovering tonight in a Houston hospital following surgery for a perforated ulcer. The 83-year-old former First Lady was admitted yesterday with stomach pains. The surgery was described as routine. Mrs. Bush is expected to go home early next week.
And investors had something to be thankful for. The Dow surged for the fourth day in a row; that hasn't happened since mid-August, over three months. Blue chips soared 247 points to close at 8,726. The Nasdaq and S&P also finished in positive territory. Some decent news today -- Erica.
HILL: And we'll take that, Gary. Thanks and have a happy Thanksgiving.
Just ahead, we have an update for you on the Mumbai attacks. Stay with us on "360."
HILL: A quick recap for you of our breaking story tonight out of Mumbai, India. At this hour, Mumbai is in lockdown. The stock market, the schools are closed. Residents told to stay inside their home. Police are randomly checking cars. All of this because about 12 hours ago, teams of gunmen stormed as many as ten locations across the city. That wave of attacks apparently targeting Americans and other westerners.
The Associated Press puts the death toll at more than 100; at least 200 people have been wounded. The terrorists also took hostages at three locations. Some of them have been released at this hour but it is unclear how many captives remain.
There have also been reports an obscure terrorist group called Deccan Mujahideen has claimed responsibility. U.S. officials, however, have not confirmed that claim. Indian officials say nine suspects were arrested overnight. Three people have been detained for questioning.
And we, of course, will continue to follow this story for you right here on CNN. Our coverage continues.
That does it, though, for this edition of "360."
Don't forget to join Anderson Cooper tomorrow night, Thanksgiving, at 9:00 Eastern, for "CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute."
Thanks for being with us. I'm Erica Hill. Enjoy your Thanksgiving.
And again our coverage of the terror attacks in India continues. Complete coverage from our sister network CNN-International as well as Jonathan Mann who joins us now from Atlanta.