Poles Caught in Mumbai Attacks

A member of the European Parliament was one of several Poles freed from the luxury hotels targeted during the November terrorist attacks in Mumbai.

Jan Masiel, 45, watched through a peephole in the door of his room as terrorists rampaged through the upscale Taj Mahal Palace hotel. “I kept the lights down and saw a group of men in the corridor. They were followed by four or five terrorists with rucksacks,” he said.

Masiel was part of a trade delegation of seven European parliamentarians staying at the Mumbai hotel for meetings ahead of a European Union/India summit.

Another Polish citizen staying at the Oberoi Trident hotel was rescued by anti-terrorist forces after hiding in his room for 16 hours while terrorists held hostages and engaged in a shoot out with India’s National Security Guard.

“It was an awful 16 hours, I was very scared,” the unnamed businessman from Wroclaw told Polish news channel TVN24. “There was smoke everywhere, I couldn’t see anything. The windows didn’t open and I had to break the glass to avoid suffocating.”

A day prior to the attacks, several hundred guests had been at the Oberoi to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Polish Consulate in Mumbai.

President Lech Kaczyński expressed his condolences to Indian President Pratibha Patil over the attacks.

“The Mumbai terrorist attacks show that the fight with terrorism is necessary,” Polish news agency PAP quoted Kaczyński as saying.

In what has been labelled India’s “9/11,” militants armed with machine guns and grenades attacked Mumbai’s top luxury hotels, its biggest railway station, a Jewish centre and several other sites in the country’s financial capital, killing at least 173 and injuring over 300.

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