CARY, N.C. — With the terrorist siege in Mumbai over, Indian-Americans in Cary gathered for a prayer vigil Saturday night at the Sri Venkateswara Temple of North Carolina.
Suspected Muslim militants carried out the bloody rampage at 10 sites across Mumbai, the nation's financial capital formerly known as Bombay – not far from where Sanjana Bagade used to live.
“Even though we were not there, we were getting the feelings as if we were,” Bagade, who now resides in Cary, said.
Authorities said just 10 men carried out the plot that killed at least 195 people and wounded 295. Among the dead were 18 foreigners, including six Americans.
“This is like watching somebody break into your house and kill your kids right in front of your eyes,” former Mumbai resident Kshitij Gujarati said.
Gujarati has kept in close contact with his best friend living in Mumbai during the attacks.
“Where they shot two of these terrorists was right outside where she lives,” Gujarati said.
A previously unknown Muslim group called Deccan Mujahideen – a name suggesting origins inside India – has claimed responsibility for the attacks. But Indian officials said the sole surviving gunman, now in custody, was from Pakistan and voiced suspicions of their volatile neighbor. Nine other attackers were killed, they said.
Pakistan denied it was involved and demanded evidence for Indian charges.
A U.S. counterterrorism official said some "signatures of the attack" were consistent with Lashkar and Jaish-e-Mohammed, another group that has operated in Kashmir. Both are reported to be linked to al-Qaida.
“I didn’t know killing could solve anything. The recklessness and the carelessness to human life is pretty sad,” Deepak Rajpal, now living in Cary, said.
U.S. officials were worried about a possible surge in violence between Pakistan and India – the nuclear armed rivals have fought three wars against each other, two over Kashmir – and were sending FBI agents to India to help investigate.
President George W. Bush pledged full U.S. support for the investigation, saying the killers "will not have the final word."
The North Carolina neighbors said they have relied on each other in the past few days. Though their friends and family still in Mumbai are safe, they said following the attacks has been a difficult experience.
“We don’t feel like watching anything else than … the news,” Bagade said.