They were 10 gunmen, well-trained and armed with assault rifles and grenades, officials say. They had scouted their targets ahead of time. The knew the hallways and the basements. They even carried bags of almonds for energy. Police say they were Muslim extremists from Pakistan, and may be tied to India's long-running insurgency in the disputed, largely Muslim, Himalayan region of Kashmir.
They landed in an inflatable rubber boat not long after nightfall on a Mumbai beach, a semi-isolated stretch of sand and stone where fisherman bring in their boats during the daytime. From there, it was less than a 15-minutes walk to their major targets. The group fanned out across the city, hitting 10 spots in two hours. They chose some of the best-known landmarks, many popular with foreigners and the city's elite. Many of the attacks ended in minutes. But at two luxury hotels and a Jewish center they dug in, fending off hundreds of commandos for days.
About 9:30 p.m.
Nariman House , Mumbai headquarters of the ultra-Orthodox Chabad Lubavitch movement.
A gunshot startles the family of Rabbi Gavriel Noach Holtzberg and others inside the recently renovated five-story Jewish center on a bumpy, unpaved back road off a main street in Mumbai's trendy Colaba neighborhood. The pale yellow building, with its synagogue, kosher dining room and friendly rabbi, was a magnet for Israeli backpackers looking for a place to celebrate holidays while on vacation and an important religious center for Mumbai's small Jewish community.
Someone must be lighting firecrackers, thought Sandra Samuel, a maid at the center.
Then a gunman came up the stairs.
She and another employee duck into a room and hid in terror as explosions and gunshots rattle the building through the night.
"They destroyed everything, the lift, the dining room, everything," she says later.
At about the same time
Thursday mornin, 10:45 a.m.
The Jewish center is silent, except for the wailing of a child.
Samuel, the maid, cracks open the door of her hiding place and sees a deserted staircase. She runs up one flight and finds the rabbi's 2-year-old son Moshe crying beside his parents and two Israeli guests who lay still on the floor. His pants are drenched with blood. She grabs the boy, bolts down the stairs and out of the building.
The soldiers who fought the gunman say they were tough, bitter opponents.
"It's obvious they were trained somewhere ... Not everyone can handle the AK series of weapons or throw grenades like that," an unidentified member of India's Marine Commando unit, his face wrapped in a black mask, tells reporters after his units stormed the hotels. The attackers were "very determined and remorseless."
Frida, About 7 a.m.
Black-clad commandos fan out on the rooftops of the evacuated buildings surrounding the Jewish center and begin laying down covering fire.
A helicopter drops toward the roof. One after another, masked commandos slither down a rope. The helicopter returns with more commandos, then a third time with equipment.
Slowly, the assault team descends an outside staircase and begins clearing the building.
A small explosion erupts from the house. A few seconds later, two gunshots, a pause, then two more. For hours, a similar pattern is repeated. Holes are blasted in the building as hundreds of gawkers cheer from nearby streets.
Indian commandos launch a rocket at one of the Jewish center's upper floors, shaking the neighborhood and blowing out windows in neighboring buildings.
A small group of commandos appear in the street, raising their rifles in triumph. The crowd breaks through police barriers and floods the streets in celebration.
Inside the building, nine people lay dead, including the rabbi and his wife. According to Israeli media reports, some are wrapped in prayer shawls [MS - According to reports, when after his wife was murdered in front of him, Rabbi Holtzberg did one final act of chessed to his wife and covered her body with a Talit>.