Mumbai Streets Empty, Gunfire Continues

While Mumbai's roads are nearly empty, the roofs are full of people.

MUMBAI, India, Nov. 28, 2008 -- The view from Wasim Khan's roof reveals a new Mumbai. Instead of streets crowded full of taxis, cars and cows, the roads are nearly empty but the roofs are full of people.

Atop buildings near Colaba Causeway in South Bombay, thousands of Mumbaikers have focused their attention on Nariman House where Indian military commandos are fighting with what is believed to be a handful of remaining uncaptured terrorists.

Khan, along with about 50 people, have been watching the fighting from his roof since early Friday morning. He watched in part because he wants to see the action, but also because it is the only safe activity while their city is under seige.

"We can't go outside, we have to stay in our own buildings," said Khan, 24. "Police are not letting us out to get food to eat."

As gunfire is exchanged and grenades explode, the crowds of onlookers yell and clap along with what appears to be military progress.

"They are cheering like their team's quarterback made a good throw," said local resident Peter Keep.

But the oddly carnival-like atmosphere betrays the somber attitude felt across the city. The ordinarily bustling tourist haven along Calaba Causeway - a street that includes restaurants, local shops and outside vendors selling everything from scarves to wooden stamps - is mostly closed.

Across the city, many people stayed home from work. Those who did venture to the office were met with a frightening reality: continued firefights throughout South Bombay.

Anand Tanna, a banker, went to work only to hear gunshots nearby.

"I made sure the bank's shutters were down and everyone was safe inside. Then I left and went to work at a friend's office down the road."

At a hospital about two miles away, dozens of victims are recovering from the attacks. Bed after bed in one ward of the intensive care unit is full of people suffering from gunshot wounds. ***the interviews asked we not name the hospital hence my not naming it

Australians Katherine Anstee, 22, and David Coker, 23, arrived to Mumbai on Wednesday night for the start of an eleven-week traveling holiday. Just two hours later they were being shot at by terrorists who attacked Leopold's Cafe.

Anstee was shot in the back of her thigh which shattered her femur. She is a full leg casts but expects to be transfered to a hospital in. Sydney next week.

During the shooting, Anstee at first thought the bullets were firecrackers because of the noise they made when hitting the tile floor. She dove under a table to try to reach safety but was shot.

"When I was crawling on the floor, there was a woman lying in front of me who was dead.

The two managed to escape the attack, eventually hailing a taxi to the hospital.

"We feel lucky," she said from her hospital bed. "We feel relatively unscathed."