Terror in Mumbai

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You have all probably already heard about the devastating terror attacks in Mumbai, India, which have left at least 101 people dead and 314 injured. My prayers go out to the families of the victims.

In addition, some people have been taken hostage, including Chabad Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and his family. According to the Chabad website:

Terrorists attacked multiple locations in Mumbai, India, late Wednesday night, with much of the gunfire occurring near the Chabad-Lubavitch center run by Rabbi Gavriel and Rivka Holtzberg.

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Of particular concern to authorities is the report of two gunmen taking foreign tourists hostage at the five-star Oberoi Hotel. The Indian military was reportedly making preparations to take the hotel by force before daybreak. Another 100 tourists and three members of India’s parliament were holed up in the Taj Mahal Hotel.

One friend of Gavriel Holtzberg reported receiving an e-mail from the Mumbai rabbi at 11:30 p.m. local time. The Israeli Consulate was in touch with Holtzberg, but the line was cut in middle of the conversation. No further contact has since been established. Other reports on IBN showed the Chabad House’s building as being occupied by terrorists, but no further information could be confirmed.

Chabad-Lubavitch representatives in New York and Israel are working alongside the Israeli Foreign Ministry, the U.S. Consulate in Mumbai and a volunteer team of local residents to ascertain the well being of the Holtzbergs and other Jews in the area.

People are urged to say Psalms for Gavriel Noach ben Freida Bluma, Rivka bas Yehudis and Moshe Tzvi Ben Rivkah, and anyone affected by the tragedy.

I will try to keep you updated during the day.

Updates (Israel time)

9:45AM: Ha’aretz reports the Israeli rescue service Zaka said that Rabbi Holtzberg’s wife and two-year-old child have been released.

9:48AM: According to Reuters, at least 5 Israelis are among at least 100 hostages at the Oberoi Hotel in Mumbai.

9:55AM: There are reportedly at least 4 terrorists in the Chabad building.

10:05AM: According to JPost, the terrorists released Rabbi Holtzberg’s son and nanny, but the Rabbi and his wife remain inside, alive but unconscious.

10:55AM: Yeshiva World News is liveblogging the Chabad situation.

1:00PM: Indian commandos and police are reportedly preparing a final assault on the Chabad House.

1:12PM: According to the Foreign Ministry, 10-15 Israelis are being held hostage in Mumbai, and another 20-25 have yet to contact their families in Israel.

2:22PM: One of the terrorists told a television channel he belonged to an Indian Islamist group calling itself Deccan Mujahedeen, seeking an end to the persecution of Indian Muslims. By persecution of Indian Muslims, I assume he means depriving them of a global Caliphate.

2:32PM: Reuters reports that the terrorists at Mumbai Chabad are ready to discuss a hostage release.

3:22PM: More information regarding the last update: One of the terrorists phoned an Indian television channel to say he was prepared to free his Israeli hostages if the government agreed to talks.

3:35PM: According to Ynet, Rabbi Holtzberg and his wife lost their eldest son two and a half years ago.

4:36PM: According to Yeshiva World News, “American media reports state that three Israelis were killed in the Mumbai Chabad House. At this time, there is absolutely no confirmation from any official Israeli sources.” I pray this isn’t true.

6:02PM: Based on information received by Israel’s most senior officials, there are real fears for the lives of the Israeli hostages being held by terrorists in the Chabad House.

6:05PM: I am about to embark on my drive home. I pray that by the time I get home in an hour or so, I will hear some good news.

7:40PM: Israel’s channel 2 reports 8 to 10 hostages have been released from the Chabad center.

7:52PM: An Indian source has reported that the Rabbi and his wife have been released.

8:06PM: A female Israeli held hostage at the Chabad house reportedly called the Israeli Embassy at gunpoint, in order to state the terrorists’ demands. No word on whether she was one of the hostages reportedly released.

8:09PM: The Israeli consul general in Mumbai has stated that according to Indian news reports, 8-12 hostages were released. But he could not confirm whether it did indeed occur, saying “It could even be the building next door. We are still investigating.”

8:27PM: According to this Indian Twitterer:

more hostages coming out of Nariman house. they look unharmed. thank god

10:00PM: An hour and half since the last update, and still things are not clear. Many conflicting reports, and no real sign that the Rabbi and his wife were released.

10:40PM: A diplomat has confirmed that no hostages have been freed from the Chabad center. Drats.

11:00PM: A loud explosion has reportedly rocked the Chabad house.

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