An Indian Christian leader lamented the coordinated terrorist attacks on India's financial capital city of Mumbai Wednesday night, but called into question claims that Muslim terrorists are behind the attacks.
"This is definitely a well-planned and executed incident to bring instability to the nation in the light of the national election coming up," observed Gospel for Asia President K.P. Yohannan.
"But I have real reservations about placing blame on the Muslims."
Yohannan pointed out that there have been at least eight major terrorist attacks in India within this year, and all were initially attributed to Islamic terrorists.
However, upon further investigation all the incidents turned out to have been perpetrated by radical Hindu extremist groups led by radical priests.
"So until there is a complete investigation of these horrible attacks, I am not ready to blame the Muslims," he said, adding that "anyone can take a Muslim name for their group."
A series of coordinated attacks struck 10 sites across Mumbai killing at least 87 people and wounding another 200, according to CNN. The attackers targeted foreign tourists and took hostages in two luxury hotels favored by Westerners.
Witnesses reported that gunmen particularly targeted Americans and British guests in the Taj Mahal Hotel and Hotel Oberoi. After about five hours of fighting between the terrorists and police, smoke was seen rising from the historic Taj Mahal Hotel.
As of Thursday morning, gunshots were still heard at the Oberoi Hotel, where about 100 members of a special unit Indian police force were undertaking an operation to rescue the four to five foreigners held hostage on the 19th floor when CNN released its report.
Gunshots were also still heard from the Taj Mahal, a few blocks from Oberoi, Thursday morning. But police soon escorted dozens of people, mostly Westerners, out of the hotel.
Police chief A.N. Roy of Maharashtra state, where Mumbai is the capital, said all hostages at the Taj Mahal have been freed.
Other sites attacked include Colaba Market, several popular restaurants and a railroad station.
Yohannan noted that attacks on foreigners are completely contrary to Indian culture.
"India always treated foreigners with such respect and value," he said. "This is totally against the nature of Indians. The question is, will this spread over all the country?"
"We know that only the Gospel of Christ can change human hearts, regardless of caste, race or religion. That is why we must pray for India at this time," he added.
A group calling itself the Deccan Mujahedeen had emailed several Indian news outlets claiming responsibility for the attacks, but their claim has not been verified.
Nine suspects were arrested overnight and three others were detained for questioning.
The Mumbai attacks followed a series of bomb attacks in India's capital, New Delhi, in September where more than 20 people were killed and 100 people injured. Also this year in July, 17 blasts took place in the western Indian city of Ahmedabad, killing 49 people and injuring more than 100 people.
A coordinated bomb attack also occurred in the northwest city of Jaipur in May that killed 63 people.
Muslim extremists were said to be behind all the bomb blasts, with some claiming to declare war on Hindu-dominated India for the persecution of Muslims and support of U.S policies.