Martin condemns Mumbai terrorist attacks


Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheál Martin has today condemned the terrorist attacks in Mumbai.

The Department of Foreign Affairs has said that it has no information about Irish citizens being caught up in the attacks but a spokesman told The Irish Timesthat it was monitoring the situation.

At least 101 people were killed and 287 injured last night in a series of terror attacks in the Indian city after armed militants attacked up to ten locations across Mumbai.

A number of hostages have been freed from one of the city's top hotels - the Taj Mahal Palace hotel, although a number of people, including foreign tourists, are still believed to be being held at the Oberoi Trident hotel.

Japan's foreign ministry said at least one Japanese national had been killed and one injured in the attacks, while South Korea said 26 of its nationals had escaped unharmed.

Australian prime minister Kevin Rudd confirmed one Australian had been killed by the attacks in Mumbai, but said it was possible the number of Australians killed could rise. Two other Australians were also injured in the attacks.

 A British national and an Italian and German citizen have also been confirmed as dead.

The Department of Foreign Affairs is currently advising against all but essential travel to Mumbai and has said that citizens in the city should remain indoors.

Speaking in Dublin this morning after a phone call to the Indian Ambassador P.S Raghavan, the Minister for Foreign Affairs said he had instructed diplomatic staff from the embassy in New Delhi to travel immediately to Mumbai to set up a crisis centre for Irish citizens at the honorary consulate there.

"I have just spoken with Ambassador Raghavan to convey my sincere condolences on behalf of the Irish people at this tragic time. Relations between India and Ireland have always been close and I wanted to assure him of our sympathy and prayers. As we in Ireland know all too well terrorist atrocities such as these serve no purpose except to kill and injure innocent victims, Indian and foreign alike, and to sow panic and suspicion," said Mr Martin.

"I wish to condemn in the strongest terms these appalling terrorist attacks in Mumbai and to convey my deepest sympathy to the Indian people," he added.

In Washington, the White House and president-elect Barack Obama condemned the attacks, as did France, Britain, Pakistan, Russia, China, the current president of the European Union, and UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon.

Elsewhere, Pope Benedict called for an end to "all acts of terrorism" and said he was deeply concerned by the violence in India's financial capital.

The Department of Foreign Affairs has said that Irish citizens in India who may require assistance should contact the Irish embassy in New Delhi on 0091-11-2462-6733.

Meanwhile, people in Ireland who are concerned about relatives who are in the region can phone the Consular Division of the Department of Foreign Affairs on 01-4780822.