Invitation for Christmas 2008

Mumbai Siege ends finally after Three Days of Struggle

mumbai-siege-nov-29-2008MUMBAI, India –  Two terrorists were killed in the final stages of a battle with Indian commandos, following attacks throughout Mumbai.

The official death toll rose significantly to 195, from 155. Nearly 300 people have been injured in the assault on India’s economic capital.

The hotel siege was brought to a close today as security and political sources in the UK tried to play down suggestions that up to seven of the terrorists had strong British links, and that some of them were British-born men of Pakistani origin.

Sources in India are reported to have indicated that some of the men came from the north of England, including from Leeds, Hartlepool and Bradford.

However, a spokesman for the Foreign Office in London said: “We have spoken to Indian authorities at a high level and they have said that there is no evidence that any of the terrorists either captured or dead are British.”

Holy See Warns of Financial Crisis Worsening

dollar-nov-29-2008NEW YORK, United States – The worldwide financial crisis will become a catastrophe if the dignity of the human person is not protected, the Holy See is cautioning.

This is the warning sounded by Archbishop Celestino Migliore, permanent observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, a day before the Doha conference on progress in international cooperation in development.

The conference begins Saturday and runs through Dec. 2.

“For some time now, we’ve found ourselves in the middle of a financial crisis that could become a catastrophe if it is allowed to affect other crises: economy, food, energy,” the archbishop told Vatican Radio. “It seems that a decided return of the public sector to financial markets is necessary. It is necessary to increase coordination and unity in the search for solutions.

“It is necessary to recover some basic dimensions of finances, that is, the primacy of labor over capital, of human relationships over mere financial transactions, of ethics over the sole criterion of efficacy.”

The Holy See representative recalled that “experts tell us that in this situation it would be highly counterproductive to raise up new barriers, as much for the interchange of goods and services, as for investments. Every protectionist measure of this kind could increase the tension of the current economic situation.”

Above all, Archbishop Migliore affirmed, “criteria more in line with the human person” need to be adopted.

That is why, he concluded, the problem is ethical: “There were already many rules and ethical codes before the crisis; the problem is that great impunity was given to those who didn’t respect them.

“It is also a problem of leadership, of governments’ moral authority at all levels, which have the primary responsibility of protecting citizens, above all workers, those who save, normal people who do not have the possibilities of following the complicated financial engineering and who have to be defended against the tricks and abuse of the smart alecks.”

Indians remain United More Than Ever

india_flag_background12MUMBAI, India – All Indians are feeling the shock of the awful attacks in Mumbai. All express their condolence to the victims and their families.

The attacks were aimed at  the people, their prosperity and their peace. But their top target was something else: unity. If these attacks cause them to turn on each other in hatred and conflict, the terrorists will have won. They know that hatred and chaos feed on division. They also know that as radical extremists, their only hope of winning is by turning the rest of them against each other.

They deny them that victory. They are launching a message to extremists on all sides and all the political leaders, one that will soon be published in newspapers across India and Pakistan. The message is that these tactics aren’t working, that Indians are more united than ever, united in love and support to each other, and determined to work together to stop violent extremism. If millions of people sign it, the message will be unmistakable.

Terrorists attack Taj Mahal Hotel in Mumbai, India

Holy Father Benedict XVI Grieves Mumbai Attacks

pope-nov-27-2008

VATICAN CITY – After another eruption of terrorist attacks, this time in India, Benedict XVI is appealing for an end to terrorism as a grave offense to human dignity.

This was affirmed in a telegram sent in the Pope’s name by his secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, to Cardinal Oswald Gracias, archbishop of Mumbai, India.

So far, 119 people have been reported killed and 288 injured in a series of attacks that began Wednesday night and continued today in Mumbai. Muslim militants are thought responsible.

“Deeply concerned about the outbreak of violence in Mumbai, the Holy Father asks you kindly to convey his heartfelt condolences to the families of those who have lost their lives in these brutal attacks, and to assure the public authorities, citizens, and all those affected of his spiritual closeness” the telegram said. “His Holiness urgently appeals for an end to all acts of terrorism, which gravely offend the human family and severely destabilize the peace and solidarity needed to build a civilization worthy of mankind’s noble vocation to love God and neighbor.

“The Holy Father prays for the repose of the souls of the victims and implores God’s gift of strength and comfort for those who are injured and in mourning.”

For their part, the bishops’ conference of India unequivocally condemned the terrorist attacks.

Archbishop Stanislaus Fernandes, secretary-general of the conference, expressed his deep sympathy and serious concern, saying, “The terrorist attacks in various parts of Mumbai in which innocent people are killed, foreigners targeted and top cops killed is one of the most barbaric acts and it must be condemned in the strongest possible words by one and all. Terrorism is evil, and all those involved in any terrorist activities are people working against the very foundation of human life which is sacred in the eyes of God.”

Terror strikes Mumbai

20081126mumbai27MUMBAI, India – Fresh gunshots rang out Thursday morning at the Hotel Taj where security forces battled terrorists holding hostages after a night of horror that left 101 people dead and over 250 injured in India’s most audacious terror attack.

As soldiers, police and elite commandos fanned out across the country’s commercial capital to rescue hostages and kill terrorists who stormed the city at night and struck at seven sites in the business hub of south Mumbai, one of the terrorists claimed that the attack was to avenge the “persecution” of Muslims in India.

The otherwise bustling city — home to Bollywood — was still on edge, more than 12 hours after a large but unknown number of terrorists armed with automatic rifles and grenades sneaked into Mumbai by the sea, a clear indication that they must be foreigners.

Desperate to cope with a situation they had never encountered before, the authorities declared a holiday in Mumbai Thursday. The Bombay Stock Exchange and the National Stock Exchange were ordered closed for the day.

“This is a most audacious attack. It is a very serious situation and gun battles are still on in at least three places,” said Maharashtra Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh as leaders around the world denounced the well-planned terrorist operation.

Television footage showed some terrorists, wearing dark colour T-shirts and holding automatic rifles, near some of the buildings under attack. One of them, who called himself Shahadullah, telephoned the India TV channel from Oberoi-Trident Hotel, which too was stormed, to claim that he was from the Indian city of Hyderabad but he spoke in Hindustani with what appeared to be a Pakistani accent.

He told the channel that the attack had been carried out to avenge the 1992 razing of the Babri mosque in Ayodhya and the “persecution” of Muslims in India. He demanded the release of jailed Indian Mujahideen militants in exchange for tourists taken hostage at the Taj and Oberoi Trident hotels as well as Nariman House in the heart of the city.