Israelis held hostage in Mumbai Jewish center: foreign ministry

Israel Materials 27 November 2008 17:45 (UTC +04:00)

A number of Israelis are being held hostage in a Jewish center in Mumbai seized by the gunmen who carried out a series of highly coordinated attacks in the Indian financial hub, Israel's Foreign Ministry confirmed Thursday.

The ultra-Orthodox Chabad-Lubavitch center, along with the high- profile Taj and Trident hotels, is one of three buildings in Mumbai where gunmen still appear to be held up, reported dpa.

"We know that there are Israelis, certainly in the Chabad centre and very probably in the Trident hotel," Israeli Foreign Ministry Spokesman Yigal Palmor said.

He said the Israeli Consulate-General in Mumbai had no confirmed number of the Israeli hostages, but added that according to various reports this ranged probably from 10 to 14 Israelis.

"At the hotel we don't know. There could be a handful," he added.

He said the Israeli authorities also had no official confirmation that the rabbi who runs the center and his wife were among the hostages, but added "it's very probable because he was inside the house and we don't that that he came out of the house."

Chabad, based in Brooklyn and one of the largest Hasidic movements in Orthodox Judaism, runs thousands of centers around the world.

The goal of the centres spread across the globe is to enable travelers to practice Judaism wherever they go, among others by inviting them to services of the Sabbath and Jewish holidays and by providing kosher meals.

Israel Radio reported that a large number of visitors was participating in the dinner hosted by the centre when the terrorist attacks happened.

It said that the gunmen in the centre had offered to open negotiations over the hostages. Indian commandos and police have cordoned off the area around the house.