The nine gunmen who killed 164 people in Mumbai as they rampaged through hotels, train stations and a Jewish center in one of the bloodiest terrorist attacks in recent Indian history took cyanide and used guns fired by hostages after they were ambushed at the city’s international airport and their escape routes were blocked, police said on Wednesday.
“The terrorists were peaceful, polite and carrying a dignity note,” said Col. D. Kurian, a police commander at the airport. “Then I received a call that they had extracted cyanide from their pockets and that they were on the run.”
Police recovered 1,100 grams of potassium cyanide, believed to be enough to poison 1,500 people, and sent a small shipment to the military laboratory in Bangkok to test it.
Five of the nine gunmen were from Gujarat and came to Mumbai to participate in the attacks, police said. Four died at the airport while the fifth was shot near the Indian Museum, where most of the carnage took place. The weapon the five used was a .38-caliber revolver and two revolvers were recovered from them, police said. The gunmen appear to have mainly divided their time between the train station, the Jewish center and the hotels they attacked.
The attacks began Friday evening at the Taj Mahal Palace and Tower hotel when gunmen sprayed bullets and opened fire indiscriminately on mostly foreigners arriving in the city to see the end of the Hindu festival of Ganesh Chaturthi. Over five days the attacks spread as the gunmen went to other popular tourist locations, including a popular cafe frequented by the Indian elite.
At least 12 were killed in Thursday’s mid-afternoon siege of Nariman House, a residential house run by Chabad Lubavitch in Mumbai’s central neighborhood of Chabad-Lubavitch, where religious services are held and donations are collected.
India’s Maharashtra state government has introduced a motion in parliament that would set up an inquiry commission to look into the attacks.
On Saturday police arrested a Canadian and a Thai national suspected of planning to run a Palestinian terror cell in India.