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Fears for family

by: JTA - Last updated: 2008-11-27

Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and family

Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and family

At least one Jewish family is reportedly being held hostage at Chabad House in Mumbai, India, which has seen multiple, coordinated terrorist attacks across the city that have killed at least 100.

The terrorists were apparently aiming at tourists in the country's financial center when the attacks began Wednesday night. They attacked using automatic rifles and grenades in areas frequented by Westerners including hotels, restaurants and the railway station. Some 300 people were injured in the attacks.

The terrorists have been holding hostages in the Taj Mahal and Trident-Oberoi luxury hotels, and reportedly looked for guests holding British and American passports.
The identity of the attackers is not known.

A little-known organization calling itself the Deccan Mujahideen has claimed responsibility, according to reports.

Indian special forces killed one terrorist in Nariman House, where Chabad is located, but four others were still holed up inside late Thursday morning and are keeping Chabad Rabbi Gavriel Holzberg, his wife Rivka, and possibly others hostage, the Jerusalem Post reported.

Earlier Thursday, the hostage takers released the Holzberg's two-year-old son and his nanny, who said that the couple is unconscious, Ynet reported.

"One friend of Gavriel Holtzberg reported receiving an e-mail from the Mumbai rabbi at 11:30 p.m. local time," reported. "The Israeli Consulate was in touch with Holtzberg, but the line was cut in middle of the conversation. No further contact has since been established."

A Chabad house is located at 5 Hormusji Street in Mumbai, near the site of one of the attacks. India is a popular destination for young Israeli backpackers, who often make the trip after their army service.

The Israel consul in Mumbai on Thursday morning told Israel Radio they were working to locate approximately 25 Israelis known to be in the area who have not contacted their families at home.

One Indian television channel said Israelis were among five to six hostages being held at the Oberoi hotel, Ynet reported. Indian officials said Thursday morning that there are between 100 and 200 guests and workers trapped in the Trident-Oberoi Hotel, as well as 10 to 12 terrorists. Indian officials are also reporting that all 45 hostages have been released from the Taj Mahal hotel.