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

Leopold Cafe and Bar

The place known as Leo’s is one of the city’s famous tourist restaurants, a joint crammed with glass-topped tables, old travel posters and lounging backpackers drinking cheap beer.

There are maybe 100 people inside when two gunmen appear in the entrances. One lobs in a grenade. Then they open fire.

"It was total chaos … People didn’t know what was going on. Some hit the floor, some ran out of the side entrance or tried to find a place to hide," says Farzad Jehani, who owns the restaurant with his brother.

The assault lasts, perhaps, two minutes. When it’s over, at least four foreigners and three Indians are dead, though the brothers aren’t sure because patrons quickly rush the casualties to hospitals in passing cars and taxis.

By then the gunmen have left, jogging through the streets and apparently moving on to one of India‘s most famous hotels just a few blocks away.

"They weren’t aiming at anyone in particular. It was like they wanted to empty their magazines and do as much damage here as possible before heading to the Taj," Jehani says.


About 9:45 p.m.

Taj Mahal hotel

No one believes it’s gunfire. Not at the Taj. Built more than a century ago by one of India’s most powerful business families, the castle-like Taj Mahal is the crossroads of the city’s elite. It has been the scene of countless society weddings, business meetings and expensive dates. It is an icon of Mumbai.

But it is gunfire that two men are spraying across the ornate lobby, with its gray marble floor and Persian carpets the size of small swimming pools.

Dalbir Bains, who runs a high-end Mumbai lingerie shop, is sitting down to a steak dinner by the pool with friends. They joke about hearing gunfire. Quickly, though, screams fill the hotel and her laughs turn to terror. She runs upstairs and huddles under a table in a restaurant with about 50 others, desperately trying to be quiet.

"The gun shots were following us," says Bains.


9:47 p.m.

Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus

The gunmen shoot toward a large glass-fronted restaurant.

They are "firing at people waiting for the train. Luggage was spread everywhere. The place was full of blood. There were lots of people lying there dead," says manager Fongen Fernandes.

Soon, though, everyone is dead or hiding. Except for corpses, the platforms are empty, d’Souza says.

The worst of the carnage appears to be in a waiting room for out-of-town trains. It was filled with dozens of bodies, many shot in the head. Overall, authorities say, 53 people are killed.

Eventually, the gunmen steal a truck and drive away. A little later, one is killed by police and another, the only gunmen taken alive, is captured. He is Pakistani.

At the station, authorities use wooden baggage carts to clear the corpses.

Says Fernandes: "They collected them away like sheep and goats."


About 10 p.m.

Oberoi Hotel

Joseph Joy Pulithara, a waiter, is working in the Chinese restaurant of this modern luxurious monolith when the gunfire starts, sending diners and staff scrambling. Pulithara is shot in the leg. A woman nearby him is shot in the head.

The gunmen run into another restaurant and fire unrelenting bursts at the diners and waiters, says Andreina Varagona, an American meditation teacher shot in the arm and leg. At least a dozen people fall to the floor dead, including one of Varagona’s friends.

"There were bodies everywhere," Varagona says. "I felt like I was in a movie."

The attackers herd dozens of survivors into a stairwell. One demands to see their IDs, saying he was looking for Americans and Britons. Then he forces them upstairs, says Alex Chamberlain, a British guest.

Chamberlain and many others throughout the hotel dash out in the chaos.

Staff in one restaurant spirit at least 60 diners into a back kitchen and then hustle them to another room where they are served refreshments and then escorted outside, according to the hotel’s chairman P.R.S. Oberoi.

Other guests barricade themselves in their rooms.

The gunmen are taking hostages.


10:35 p.m.

Gunmen briefly attack a police station. A few minutes later they open fire at a hospital, then ambush a police car, killing five officers and driving away. Soon after, a bomb explodes in a taxi in the suburban neighborhood of Vile Parle. About 15 minutes later, a bomb goes off in another taxi inside the city. One person is believed killed.


Thursday morning

The Oberoi

A banner hanging from a window carries a simple but wrenching plea: "Save Us."

Inside, hundreds are hiding in their rooms, or being held hostage.

The gunmen, armed with rifles and grenades, push Egyptian businessman Osama Embabi into a room where four or five people