Saturday, November 29, 2008

American Victims of Mumbai Attacks

The shock and horror of the terrorist attacks in Mumbai, India, came home to the United States on Friday as a Virginia father and his teenage daughter were identified as being among the more than 150 people killed. Along with two other Americans at a Jewish center in the city, a Brooklyn rabbi and his wife were found dead, although, incredibly, their 2-year-old son survived after being whisked away by his nanny.

The number of Americans killed is almost certain to rise as government officials continue to sort through the carnage of the attacks at two luxury hotels and other sites.

Along with the human toll, the violence also threatens to unravel what had been encouraging regional and American efforts to smooth relations between neighboring rivals India and Pakistan.

Virginians Alan Scherr, 58, and daughter Naomi, 13, had traveled to Mumbai on a trip emphasizing spirituality and meditation. Scherr, a former University of Maryland art professor, was eating with his daughter and other residents of the Synchronicity spiritual community in a tourist-friendly cafe when armed gunmen attacked. Four other Synchronicity members were injured. Two have undergone surgery for gunshot wounds; a third remains in intensive care.

Meanwhile, the Brooklyn couple was found dead this morning. American Gavriel Holtzberg, 29, and his wife Rivka, 28, moved to Mumbai in 2003 to manage the Chabad House, a Hasidic community center and synagogue. Their son, Moshe, escaped during the siege with the help of his nanny and is now with his grandparents. It's still unclear if Rivka, an Israeli, had American citizenship.

The bodies of two other Americans, Leibish Teitlebaum and Bentzion Chroman, also were discovered at the Chabad House. The battle over the Jewish center ended only Friday morning, when authorities found five hostages and two gunmen dead inside.

Other Americans narrowly escaped at various sites hit by terrorists. Along with 65 other guests of an Italian restaurant in the Oberoi hotel, one Chicago family of five was barricaded in a banquet hall until it could flee safely.

Read it all here.

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