Page last updated at 16:13 GMT, Friday, 10 July 2009 17:13 UK

Policeman recalls Mumbai attack

By Prachi Pinglay
BBC News, Mumbai

An Indian soldier surveys the Taj Mahal Palace Tower Hotel in Mumbai, during the attack in November
The Mumbai attacks traumatised many Indians

A senior police officer has given a vivid account of his encounter with gunmen, at the trial of the suspect from last November's Mumbai attacks.

Sadanand Date said that he "held the fort" for 40 minutes in hand-to-hand combat with attackers at the Cama hospital, where many were killed.

More than 170 people died in various attacks across Mumbai on 26 November, including nine gunmen.

Mohammed Ajmal Amir Qasab has pleaded not guilty to waging war against India.

Mr Qasab is allegedly the sole surviving gunman and is also accused of murder and possessing explosives.

Seven people were killed inside Cama hospital and nine outside, including several police officers.

Mr Date said that on the day of the attack he received information about firing at the hospital and decided to walk to it with his police team.

He went to the sixth floor of the hospital building where the suspects were believed to be.

At that point he said that he and his men became embroiled in a gun and grenade battle with the militants.

"I knew this was a terrorist attack when the grenades exploded… I had injuries in my eye, chest, knee and ankle. I kept firing, having taken cover behind a wall," he said.

During cross examination Mr Date told the court that he was "short on manpower as well as ammunition" during the confrontation and was frantically calling for reinforcements.

The police have claimed that Mr Qasab and his accomplice Mohammed Ismail entered the hospital premises in an attempt to take hostages.

After escaping from the hospital the gunmen killed at least three policemen before hijacking a car and later engaging in another clash at the city's sea front, where Mr Qasab was caught alive and Mr Ismail was killed, police say.

The defendant has said little in the latest stage of the trail, other than to ask the judge if he could send a letter to Mecca in Saudi Arabia.

Mr Qasab's lawyer told the court that he was not aware of what it was that his client wanted to write or if there was anybody in particular he wanted to send the letter to.

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