Mumbai witness tells of encounter with smiling gunman
A survivor of the Mumbai attacks told US television Friday of a harrowing encounter with a smiling gunman at the Taj Mahal hotel, at the start of the bloody wave of attacks in the Indian city that has killed up to 155 people.
"You never expect to have to deal with this sort of a situation, but ... I found things happen literally within split seconds," Sajjad Karim said in an interview with CNN television from the British city of Manchester.
"He appeared in front of us. My concentration was more on the gun, the weapon that he was carrying than on him, himself," he added of the gunman, whom he described as "a fairly young man of south Asian appearance."
"And he was wearing a smile on his face as he started to spray the bullets," he added.
Karim, a British member of the European parliament, said he was outside the luxury Taj Mahal hotel when shooting broke out on the street and hotel staff ushered him and other guests standing at the entrance inside the building.
"At this point, lots of people started running in from the street, including one lady who was limping her way in, with blood pouring down, out of her foot and leg," he said.
The people in the main lobby then made a rush for the rear exit of the hotel.
"I didn't stop to look why, but I could hear much more pronounced gunshots, which made it quite clear that the gunmen had made their way into the front of the hotel.
"A lot of panic. People shouting, screaming.
"But unfortunately, as we made it to the rear exit, another gunman appeared, and then stood immediately in front of us, literally 15, 16, 17 yards (meters) in front, and just pointed an automatic rifle machine gun at us and started spraying us with bullets," Karim said.
After the frightening encounter -- he did not say if anybody in his group was hit by gunfire -- Karim and 40 or 50 other people barricaded themselves in a hotel room from 10:00 pm to 6:00 am when, he said, they were rescued by the Indian army.