- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 26, 2008

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Bush administration strongly condemned a series of coordinated terrorist attacks Wednesday in the Indian city of Mumbai in which Westerners reportedly were targeted but said it was not aware of any American casualties and that U.S. officials there were safe.

The White House and State Department both denounced the attacks by teams of heavily armed gunmen who stormed luxury hotels, a popular tourist attraction, hospitals and a crowded train station in a series of attacks, killing scores of people and wounding hundreds.

“The United States condemns this terrorist attack and we will continue to stand with the people of India in this time of tragedy,” White House press secretary Dana Perino said. “President Bush offers his condolences to the Indian people and the families of the innocent civilians killed and injured in the attacks.”

Perino said the National Security Council convened officials from U.S. counterterrorism and intelligence agencies as well as the State and Defense departments to monitor the situation, “including the safety and security of our citizens, and stands ready to assist and support the Indian government.”

She said President George W. Bush has been updated regularly on the situation.

Despite claims from an Islamic militant group taking credit for the attacks, a U.S. counterterrorism official cautioned that the chaos in Mumbai prevented a quick read on the attacks. The targets and sophistication of the attacks put Islamic extremists high on the list of likely suspects, said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence.

The Justice Department said the FBI was monitoring the situation closely and was prepared to offer assistance if Indian authorities asked for it but said it had not yet received such a request.

At the State Department, deputy spokesman Robert Wood said all official Americans were safe and accounted for at the U.S. Consulate in Mumbai, which also is known as Bombay. He could not address reports that Westerners may been targeted in the attacks or were being held hostage.

In Chicago, President-elect Barack Obama’s national security spokeswoman, Brooke Anderson, said Obama “strongly condemns today’s terrorist attacks in Mumbai, and his thoughts and prayers are with the victims, their families and the people of India. These coordinated attacks on innocent civilians demonstrate the grave and urgent threat of terrorism.”

“The United States must continue to strengthen our partnerships with India and nations around the world to root out and destroy terrorist networks,” Anderson added.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was reaching out to Indian officials as well as U.S. diplomats in Mumbai and New Delhi.

The State Department has also set up a call center for Americans concerned about family members who may be in Mumbai. The number is 1-888-407-4747.

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