MUMBAI (Reuters) - At least 86 people were killed in attacks by gunmen in India's commercial hub Mumbai and security forces began moving on two luxury hotels where foreign hostages were being held, officials and witnesses said on Thursday.
The attacks by small groups of gunmen armed with automatic weapons and grenades on the hotels and other sites in the city came amid state elections, including in Kashmir, and risk destablising the country ahead of national elections next year.
Police said they had shot dead four gunmen and arrested nine suspects. They said 12 police were killed, including Hemant Karkare, the chief of the police anti-terrorist squad in Mumbai.
"The situation is still not under control and we are trying to flush out any more terrorists hiding inside the two hotels," said Vilasrao Deshmukh, Maharashtra chief minister.
In Pictures :
Pigeons fly as the Taj Hotel continues to burn in Mumbai, India, Thursday, Nov. 27, 2008. AP
Fire engulfs a part of the Taj Hotel in Mumbai, India.-AP Photo
Gunmen have launched co-ordinated attacks at several sites in the Indian city of Mumbai, killing scores. Police told people to stay inside. Warning: Some of the following images contain graphic content.
ndian television footage showed scenes on chaos on blood-splattered streets. Armed police were searching cars and people, and witnesses spoke of gunmen brandishing machine guns.
Mumbai's main railway station was also hit. People fled the huge terminus when gunmen opened fire, leaving their luggage behind as 10 people died.
At least one vehicle exploded in Mumbai, India's main financial centre and a leading tourist destination.
As the injured were taken to hospital, an explosion was heard inside the Oberoi Hotel. Hundreds of hostages are said to remain inside the hotel buildings.
As violence continued several hours after the attacks began, an unknown group calling itself Deccan Mujahideen claimed responsibility.
The attacks were condemned by the UK and US governments, whose citizens were apparently targeted by the gunmen.