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Daniel S. Markey, a senior fellow for South Asia at the Council on Foreign Relations, said, “Those who perpetrated these attacks appear to have been inspired, both in their ideology and tactics, by groups that historically enjoyed protection and assistance from the Pakistani state. But, it is not yet possible to say whether this group came from Pakistan or had ties to the ISI.”

The Taj Mahal hotel was wracked by hours of intermittent gunfire and explosions throughout Friday, even though authorities said they had cleared it of gunmen the night before, the Associated Press reported. At dusk, Indian forces began launching grenades at the building, where authorities believed one or perhaps two militants were holed up in a ballroom.

The capture of the Taj hotel would mark the end of one of the most brazen terror attacks in India’s history.

The commandos found money, ammunition and an identity card from the Indian Ocean island nation of Mauritius thought to belong to the terrorists. “We recovered $1,200, AK series rifles, credit cards and a Mauritian national identity card from Taj hotel,” said the commando chief, his face swathed in a black cloth to conceal his identity.

Marine commandos said the terrorists were well trained. “Not everybody can fire AK series weapons. Using such weapons and explosives, it is obvious they were trained somewhere,” a masked officer of the force told reporters. “These people were very, very familiar with the hotel layout. It appeared that they had carried out a survey [of the hotel] before. And they were very determined. Remorseless.”

In the most dramatic of the counterstrikes Friday morning, masked commandos rappelled from a helicopter to the rooftop of the Chabad Lubavitch Jewish center as snipers laid down cover fire.

For nearly 12 hours, explosions and gunfire erupted from the five-story building as the commandos fought their way downward, while thousands of people gathered behind barricades in the streets to watch.

The assault blew huge holes in the center, and, at one point, Indian forces fired a rocket at the building.

Soon after, elated commandos ran outside with their rifles raised over their heads in a sign of triumph.

But inside the Chabad House was a scene of tragedy.

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak told Israel’s Channel 1 TV that the bodies of three women and three men were found at the center. Some of the victims had been bound, Mr. Barak said. “All in all, it was a difficult spectacle,” he said.

CNN reported the government had cut off their live transmissions from the scene in Bombay. Authorities have asked not to show live broadcasts of the battle because they believe the gunmen were monitoring the news. Most channels largely obliged.

Click here for an AP interactive map and here for an AP timeline. (Warning: Some images are graphic.)