At least five terrorist gunmen have evaded capture in Mumbai and could make a secondary strike on India's financial capital, police feared Monday morning.
Indian security forces are officially claiming that ten militants – nine of whom were killed and one caught alive – were behind a coordinated terror attack that claimed 172 lives.
However, the hijacked Indian fishing boat used by the gunmen to approach Mumbai, the crew of which were also slaughtered, had equipment for 15 men on board when it was discovered adrift off the city shore – suggesting that several gunmen could still be at large.
"Fifteen jackets were found, 15 toothbrushes even," one police source said. "That more men were involved, is possible."
The news came as Shakeel Ahmad, India's Deputy Home Minister, said that all the gunmen found so far were from Pakistan, an allegation that threatened to place further stress on the troubled relationship between the two nuclear powers.
The Indian government has raised the country's security to a "war level", claiming proof of a Pakistani link to the Mumbai strikes.
In response, Pakistan threatened to end military operations against Islamist militants - including the Taliban and Al Qaeda – on its border with Afghan border if it is forced into an "unwanted conflict" with Delhi.
Mumbai residents suspect that perhaps two dozen gunmen had stormed the city – an impression supported by early police and media reports on Wednesday night when a wave of attacks at at least eight locations rocked Mumbai. Angry at the Government's response to the crisis, they are reluctant to accept the assurances that all the terrorists are all accounted for.
Yesterday Shivraj Patil, India's Home Minister, resigned after a public backlash at the handling of the attack on Mumbai. People are furious that it took an elite group of commandos at least seven hours to reach the two luxury hotels that were attacked, by which time the gunmen had consolidated their positions and trapped hundreds of people.
It has also emerged that Rata Tata, the head of the Indian conglomerate that owns the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, had been warned of a possible attack on the hotel. He claimed, however, that no security arrangements could have prevented the highly-trained and organised militants.
"They did not go through the front entrance. All our security arrangements are in the front," he said. "They planned everything. I believe the first thing they did, they shot a sniffer dog and his handler."
The sole Mumbai gunman captured alive has already told police he was trained in Pakistan and ordered to "kill until the last breath", according to a leaked account of his interrogation.
Azam Amir Kasab, 21, a Pakistani national, claimed the terror strikes, which left 172 dead, were intended to kill as many as 5,000 people and that he and his fellow militants were ordered to target whites – especially Britons and Americans. The claims were made in what a police source said was a transcript of his questioning.