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Official: 8 Hostages Released From Jewish Center in Mumbai

Eight hostages have been freed from a Jewish center in Mumbai that was seized by gunmen in a nighttime raid, an Indian state official reported Thursday.

The news came even as the Israeli government, whose embassy is just blocks away from hotels that were stormed and set ablaze during a terrorist attack Wednesday night, said it could not confirm the safety of its citizens.

"We have no confirmation yet for this. Our assessment is that there are still active events ... in the hotels and in the Chabad community center. We work on the assumption that Israelis may be both in this Jewish center and at least one of the hotels," Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Sallai Meridor told FOX News.

Senior Israeli officials said they were "seriously concerned" for the safety of the eight Israeli hostages and said Thursday they have no proof they are still alive.

The officials told FOX News that four gunmen were holding the hostages -- who were earlier said to be "unconscious" on the floor -- but have offered no proof of life as Indian security officials attempted to negotiate with the captors.

Israeli Ambassador Mark Sofer was en route to Mumbai from New Delhi Thursday to attend to the situation in the Lubavitch Chabad center, one of many targets of a nighttime terror attack in India's financial capital that left at least 127 dead and more than 300 wounded.

Three hostages escaped from the center early Thursday, as Sandra Samuel, a cook in the employ of the Chabad house, carried 2-year-old Moshe Holtzberg to safety.

"I took the child, I just grabbed the baby and ran out," said Samuel, 44, who has worked at the center for the last five years.

Click here to see photos of the hostages and commandos.

Click to view photos from the attack sites.

The boy emerged unharmed — but his but his blood-soaked pants spoke of the horrors inside, where his parents, Rabbi Gavriel Noach Holtzberg and Ricki Holtzberg, are believed to be held captive. Holtzberg runs the Chabad house, which the Israeli government has said was specifically targeted.

The Israeli ambassador told FOX News he had no information on Holtzberg's condition. "We don't have any final word in terms of his situation," Meridor said.

Relatives of the kidnapped couple gathered in prayer at a family home in Israel, desperately trying to find out whether their loved ones were safe.

"We are praying that everything will be OK. We are still in a state of uncertainty," said Mrs. Holtzberg's father, Rabbi Shimon Rosenberg. Later Thursday, family members left for India.

Dozens of Indian commandos have surrounded the five-story building, where heavy curtains hung behind windows broken by gunfire. Outside the center, thousands of people stood in the narrow alleyways watching the standoff.

The gunmen stormed the building Wednesday night during a series of coordinated attacks across this seaside city that have killed at least 127 people. A group of suspected Muslim militants claimed responsibility.

Rabbi Zalman Shmotkin, a spokesman for the Lubavitch movement in New York, said the gunmen seized a police vehicle, which allowed them access to the area around the Chabad house, which serves as an educational center, a synagogue and offers drug prevention services.

Samuel said she and Zakir Hussein, 22, the center's caretaker, locked themselves in their first floor room when they saw a gunman running up the stairs.

"Israelis and Jews, wherever they are, are under threat," said Ehud Raz, chief security officer at the Israeli consulate in Mumbai. "They are a target."

Neighbors had tried to protect the house as armed gunmen seized it Wednesday night. They clashed with the gunmen and threw rocks at them in an effort to drive the militants away, said Puran Doshi, a businessman who lives nearby.

The crowd eventually retreated under fire from the assailants, who also threw several hand grenades, he said.

"They shot indiscriminately into the crowd," Doshi said.

Sanjay Bhasme, 40, who lives in the building behind Chabad house, said he notified the police after the shooting began about 9:45 p.m., but they took more than 30 minutes to arrive — and only after he'd repeatedly telephoned for help.

"My mind is on pause," said Joel Kurulkar, 24, a member of Mumbai's small Jewish community who was waiting outside. "I just want Rabbi to be safe, I just want Rabbi and his wife to come out."

Recent Attacks on Americans and Interests in India

FOX News' Nina Donaghy and the Associated Press contributed to this report.