Updated 11/28/2008 03:19 AM
Commandos Storm Mumbai Building Where Hostages Include Brooklyn Rabbi
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Indian commando teams raided three locations in the city of Mumbai early Friday morning seeking to free dozens of hostages, including a Brooklyn rabbi and his family, from gunmen who had killed more than 100 people in a series of coordinated attacks.
Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg, 29, and his wife Rivka were detained when gunmen seized the Mumbai headquarters of the New York-based outreach group Chabad Lubavitch Wednesday.
According to friend Dovid Zaklikowski, Holtzberg, seen above, had been in touch with the Israeli Consulate, but the line was cut and, as of Thursday evening, no further contact had been made.
The London Globe and Mail reported early Friday morning that Moshe Holzberg, the couple's two-year-old son, had been led out of the building by police along with a woman and a cook, who told authorities that she had seen the rabbi and his wife lying on the floor, apparently unconscious.
The newspaper reported that the young Holtzberg was unharmed, but his clothes were soaked in blood.
Approximately 120 people were feared dead in the attacks, which began on Wednesday with several teams of unidentified gunmen opening fire at 10 locations throughout the city. They seized the building housing the Jewish center as well as two luxury hotels in the area.
Indian commando teams responded early Friday morning by storming the Jewish center, dropping onto the roof from a helicopter, as other commandos swept through the Taj Mahal and Oberoi hotels.
Zaklikowski said Holtzberg moved from Brooklyn to India in 1993 to help the Jewish community. The news has shaken his friends and loved ones.
"The family is obviously worried and we are right now optimistic of the situation and we hope that it will be an optimistic outcome," said Zaklikowski.
Reports say around 25 hostages were freed from the Oberoi Friday morning, after 400 were rescued from the Taj hotel Thursday.
A call center has been set up for those concerned about family members. The number is 1-888-407-4747.
New Yorkers, many with family in India, gathered at the Hindu Temple Society in Flushing Thursday afternoon to pray for the hostages and victims.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn were among those on hand to show their support.
"As New Yorkers, we know the toll that terrorism takes all too well," said Mayor Michael Bloomberg. "And because we are such a diverse city we feel the pain of terrorism wherever it strikes. Mumbai is also a very diverse city and unfortunately that is part of what has made New York City and Mumbai terrorist targets."
"If you look at the pictures of some of the terrorists, they are like teenagers, they could have been my son or somebody," said Ram Moham, who has family in Mumbai. "They're just misguided without knowing what they are doing."
"I have full confidence in the Indian government and I think they'll be able to handle the situation," said Roger Chugh, who also has family in Mumbai. "Today, we will all pray for those people."
The State Department says at least three Americans are among the injured in the attacks. At least one Briton was killed in the attacks as well.
Police say the gunmen arrived in Mumbai by boat, and then split up to carry out the attacks. As of Thursday evening, it was not clear was behind the strikes.
The United States State Department says all the diplomats at the consulate are safe.