Friday’s press review

Fire engulfs the top floor of the Taj Mahal hotel, site of one of the shootouts with terrorists during a in Mumbai on late November 26 (AFP Photo / Lorenzo Tugnoli)
Friday’s Russian newspapers focus on the terrorist attacks in Mumbai.

ROSSIYSKAYA GAZETA writes that the business capital of India found itself the target of Islamic terrorist groups on many occasions.  But the recent attack was the first when the whole Mumbai downtown area turned into a battlefield. The paper calls the attack an unprecedented tragedy. It says that, so far, experts are not in any hurry to point the finger of blame or to seek motives for the massive slaughter in the financial center of India. The paper says the demands of the terrorists, such as, for instance, ‘to free all Indian Modjaheds’ were impossible to fulfill, and the terrorists had known of that in advance. The paper also says that the scale of the terrorist act as well as its boldness and perfect organization may speak of an ‘Al-Qaida’ connection.

KOMMERSANT says, unlike in the terrorist acts that happened in Mumbai or elsewhere in India in the past, this time Westerners, first of all Britons and Americans, were the main target. The paper says the attack reminds us of a promise by ‘Al-Qaeda’ made after 9/11: to organize another 9/11 for the U.S. and their allies outside the U.S. borders. The paper says that experts see a difference in the recent attack from all the previous acts of terrorism committed in India, including the explosion at the Mumbai stock exchange in 1993 and multiple explosions in commuter trains in Mumbai in 2006.

Firstly, this time, unprecedented in the history of terrorism in India, the attack included various methods of terrorist act used simultaneously – explosions, random shooting of passers-by and hostage taking. Secondly, the aim this time was not at destabilization of the domestic political situation or relations with neighboring Pakistan and Bangladesh but at hurting and killing of U.S. citizens and Britons, and taking them hostage.

The paper reports the first findings of the investigation the Indian authorities are conducting, including a possibility that arms and explosives for the attack arrived in Mumbai by a freighter inbound from Pakistan’s port of Karachi. The paper says, it may well be true as Pakistan these days is becoming another ‘Al-Qaida’ hub, like Iraq and Afghanistan.

NEZAVISIMAYA GAZETA describes the attack as a ‘monstrous terrorist raid’ and says that it was aimed at sowing the seeds of enmity between Hindus and Muslims, as well as at ruining investors’ confidence in India. The paper writes that experts of Russian security services have seen a clear trace of ‘Al-Qaida’ in the Mumbai attack. The conclusion is based on the fact that Americans and Britons became the main targets of the terrorists, writes the paper. However it also says that domestic terrorist groups or those based in Pakistan or Bangladesh could be the culprits. The paper notes that they attacked five-star hotels belonging to Indian businessmen while there are other hotels of the same level in Mumbai, operated by American and European companies, and those were not targeted by the terrorists.

VREMYA NOVOSTEI writes that the synchronized attacks by several groups of militants, perfectly organized and supplied, caught the Indian law enforcement and military unawares. On the terrorist group behind the attack, the paper quotes Tatiana Shaumian of the Institute of Oriental Studies, the Russian Academy of Sciences, who says that the group may be connected to an outlawed movement of radical Islamic students of India, whose programme pursues ‘the Islamization of India with prior release of the nation from the decadent influence of Western materialistic culture.’

IZVESTIA reports on the tragic events under the headline ‘Bolliwood never even dreamed of that: the capital of the Indian economy and movie industry blown up.’ The paper reports on the details of the events but doesn’t draw any conclusions.

KOMSOMOLSKAYA PRAVDA also has a detailed report which it ends with a quote from an ordinary man of Mumbai: ‘I do not think they did it out of religious beliefs. These murderers are madmen who kill innocent people with automatic weapons. Terrorists have no religion.’