I’ve just finished reading The Siege: Three Days of Terror Inside the Taj, by Adrian Levy & Cathy Scott-Clark. It received very positive reviews, but I found it difficult to follow at times, mainly because there were so many characters involved in several locations and I read it on a basic Kindle, which meant that it wasn’t easy to flick back to the Dramatis personae section to check who was who.
At times throughout the siege of the enormous hotel in Mumbai, which happened in November 2008, many people hid from the terrorists in rooms, restaurants, kitchens and other locations. The terrorists hunted various of them down over a period of many hours, and shot them. Imagine you are in a group of hotel guests hiding from killers. You’ve secreted yourselves in the basement or elsewhere, and you can hear footsteps of gunmen, up and down the corridors, and the occasional sound of gunfire. You know that they are looking for people to shoot. Then, the mobile phone of someone hiding near you goes off. This happened more than once.
The security forces were badly coordinated, which is why the siege lasted as long as it did (an unbelievable 68 hours). But they managed to hack into the phone of the man, who was in a safe location away from the siege, who made several chilling calls to some of the gunmen while they were on the rampage, advising them where to go and what to do – encouraging them to ‘martyr’ themselves, and so on. The police could tell that he was using live reports from television and also Google Earth to advise the gunmen.
In total, 166 people were killed in Mumbai as a result of the terrorist raid. Thirty-three died at the Taj.