Crean Condemns India Terrorist Attacks

AAP Created: November 26, 2008 Last Updated: November 30, -0001
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A fire breaks out of the dome of the Taj hotel in Mumbai on November 26, 2008. (Pal PillaiAFP/Getty Images)

A fire breaks out of the dome of the Taj hotel in Mumbai on November 26, 2008. (Pal PillaiAFP/Getty Images)

CANBERRA—Terrorist attacks in Mumbai are an appalling assault on democracy, Acting Foreign Minister Simon Crean says.

Gunmen, using automatic weapons and grenades, launched coordinated attacks on targets in the Indian city killing about 80 people and injuring 250 others, including two Australians.

Mr Crean condemned the attacks and urged Australians in Mumbai to follow the advice of authorities.

"Clearly the attacks are continuing … the exact death toll is unknown," he told reporters in Canberra.

The attacks were an appalling assault on the people and democracy of India.

Mr Crean said he did not know much about Deccan Mujahedeen, the group that claimed responsibility for the attacks.

"Whoever they are they are condemned in the strongest possible terms," he said.

"This is a cowardly act. It's indiscriminate, it's a terrorist act, it's an assault on democracy and it takes as victims and casualties, innocent people."

The injuries suffered by the two Australians were not life-threatening, Mr Crean said, adding one sustained a wound and the other person's condition was less serious.

The attack highlighted how swiftly terrorists can strike, Mr Crean said.

"It's why we have to constantly be on alert."

The government would assess the intentions of the Deccan Mujahedeen.

Mr Crean said there were 2,100 Australians registered as travelling in India with 300 of them in Mumbai.

Meanwhile, father-of-the-bride Nick Papazahariakis had a lucky escape after he dined at the groom's family restaurant in central Mumbai instead of a popular tourist spot where explosions have been heard.

Speaking from the restaurant with nine other Australians about 300 metres from a hotel where hostages are being held, he said friends had suggested the alternative.

"We've been very busy organising things for the wedding and some of our friends… they said we might as well go to this other restaurant, Indian restaurant with some great food, instead of going to a popular tourist restaurant and that was the decision," he told Sky News.

He said the city is under siege and the diners are unable to move from the restaurant.

"We're very close to where everything is happening," he said.

"They killed somebody around 15 metres from where we are.

"We can't go anywhere because the roads are all closed, so we're waiting and listening to news…

"You don't know what to believe at the moment, who is on which side," he said.

Mr Papazahariakis' daughter's wedding is scheduled for December 3 and 22 Australians have been invited to the official ceremony.



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