Well just moments ago while I was, err, relaxing on the couch and watching parliamentary debate from the House of Commons about government cuts to respond to the economic crisis starting to hit Canada and there was a flash about police fighting attackers with machine guns and grenades. Since the text on the screen didn’t indicate where it was going on, and it was CBC Newsworld, at first I presumed it was somewhere in Canada… kind of unbelievable, but who knows. I then checked several other sources and now the news is fully breaking about multiple shootings and attacks at luxury locations in Mumbai (Bombay) India.

So, those who know me a bit better know that I have roots in India and have been thinking about returning soon to rediscover my roots there… and have tried to make preliminary travel plans. My mom would often mention that the most dangerous places could be the ones considered most luxurious (and supposedly safe)… since they are the most relished targets both for their clients and more so for what they represent – western excess.

And today it’s happened (or is happening)… There have been attacks at both of the most luxurious hotels in Mumbai, the Oberoi Mumbai and the Taj Mahal Palace. These are hotels that have rooms starting at about USD $300 per night and going much higher. The first reports say that 80 persons have been killed, more than 250 injured (sources: BBC UK News and CNN) and IBN that the gunmen are now holding western hostages who had British or US passports at those hotels.

A senior anti-terrorist chief, Hemant Karkare, was killed in the attacks. He was basically the #1 guy in Mumbai fighting terrorist groups…

These are pictures of these luxurious hotels although I suspect they don’t look so pristine at this very moment:

The Oberoi Mumbai Hotel

The Taj Mahal Palace and Tower

Apparently, they also attacked the trendy and popular Leopold Café located on the Colaba Causeway.

To put things in perspective, USD $300 = approximately 15,000 rupees… for one night at these hotels. According to the Labour Bureau of the Government of India, the average *monthly* wage for a Mumbai resident is about 5000 rupees ($100)…

So… for a Western visitor to any of the large Indian cities (Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkatta, etc) is it perhaps safer to *not* stay in these high-end luxury hotels? I’m thinking a B&B with a local family may be a bit less luxurious, but more fun, more real and… less of a target!

A group called Deccan Mujaheddin is claiming responsibility… that name isn’t familiar to me and there are variations: deccan mujahedeen or Deccan Mujahideen. I’m sure the intel services are working hard on this…

Some sources for the latest news on this:

Live Twitter Updates from Mumbai

IBN Live Streaming Video from Mumbai (surprising stable considering the situation – they’re streaming via an Akamai CDN; bravo!)

IBNLive

Mumbai Metblogs – liveblogging it and updated every 2-3 minutes…

Wikipedia Article on the Mumbai Attacks – also being rapidly updated.

BBC News International

CNN