- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 27, 2008

WASHINGTON (AP) – At least three Americans were injured in a terror attack in India that President George W. Bush condemned as “despicable acts.”

In revealing the toll on Americans from Wednesday series of attacks in the financial capital of Numbai, State Department spokesman Robert McInturff said U.S. officials have been checking with Indian authorities and hospitals to learn the extent of casualties involving Americans. He said Thursday that U.S. officials also have called American citizens who registered with the U.S. consulate there.

McInturff also said the U.S. government has no information that any U.S. citizens died in the attacks and said that could not identify those who were injured.

“We have a lot of dual citizens who travel a lot,” he said. “We have activated a phone tree. We’re taking names of those we have and see who they know.”

While U.S. officials were laboring to learn more about any American casualties, authorities in India did say that some U.S. citizens and British citizens, particularly, were targets and were among the people taken hostage.

Earlier Thursday, Bush expressed condolences to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in a phone call at his Camp David, Maryland, mountaintop retreat.

“President Bush spoke this morning by telephone” to Singh, press secretary Dana Perino said, saying Bush wanted to express “solidarity with the people of India” in the wake of Wednesday’s attacks.

Perino said that Bush offered Singh support as he works to restore order in the populous and growing Southwest Asian nation.

“The president offered support and assistance to the government of India as it works to restore order, provide safety to its people and comfort to the victims and their families and investigate these despicable acts,” Perino said in a statement.

The White House and State Department both issued statements Wednesday denouncing 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, wounding hundreds and taking hostages.

Perino said Wednesday that 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.”

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.

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.”

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