Saturday, November 29, 2008

Terrorists Killed - Operation Ends

Atlast....after a full 62 hours, it is officially declared that all the terrorists involved in the shootouts in Mumbai at Taj Mahal Hotel, Trident-Oberoi Hotel and the Jewish Center, Nariman House have been eliminated.

The operation to flush out terrorists from Taj Hotel is over, signalling an end to the 62-hour siege by terrorists three of whom were killed this morning in an assault by the elite commandos of National Security Guards.

However, the NSG is still sanitising the hotel to check if any remaining terrorist or explosive is still in the 400-room hotel, NSG Director General J K Dutt told media persons.

"The commandos killed three terrorists after intense gun-battle inside the hotel," Dutt said. An AK-47 rifle was also recovered from them.

"There was lot of shooting. Grenades were lobbed and explosives were used by the terrorists," he said. Dutt said the operation to secure the 100-year-old heritage hotel in Colaba area completely was still in progress and NSG was undertaking the combing operation.

"We cannot say the operation is over till we check the hotel. Each floor, each room will be checked to ensure that no more terrorist is hiding in the hotel or no explosives are hidden there, the NSG chief said. Giving details of the operation, Dutt said the terrorists would set afire the hotel rooms whenever they came under pressure from the NSG commandos.

This was to divert the attention of the NSG, he said, adding that the commandos were, however, undeterred by these tactics and continued their assault resulting in the success. "We are also looking for any surviving guests, still locked up in the rooms and not coming out for the fear of terrorist attack," Dutt said.

Dutt appealed to the surviving guests to open curtains of their windows to help them identify and rescue them while assuring that NSG has the expertise to neutralise the terrorists from the window. "The body which was seen falling out of the first floor window was of a terrorist," he said.

The forces had secured the other luxury hotel Trident Oberoi and a Jewish Centre on Friday while maintaining that a lone gunman continued to hold out inside the Taj hotel at the end of the pitched combat that left 30 hostages dead. At the Centre, a residential complex housing a prayer hall, commandos were air dropped from helicopters in first such operation in urban India during which the security forces spent the entire day to clear it. Two terrorists were killed but not before five of the hostages were eliminated by them.

When the Oberoi was cleared of the terrorists, as many as 30 hostages were found dead raising the toll in the worst terrorist strike against India to over 160, including 16 security personnel. Eleven terrorists were also eliminated and one was captured yesterday. Police Commissioner Hassan Gaffoor separately told media persons that four terrorists were holed up at the Taj and they were killed in the last two days. Over ten terrorists were holed up in the three buildings -- Taj, Oberoi-Trident and Nariman House in the South Mumbai, he said, adding nine of them killed and one captured.

Eyewitnesses said that there was carnage in the Oberoi's upper lobby restaurant 'Tiffin' and bodies were strewn all over in both the five star hotels. Eerie silence was slowly descending on the city as it was coming to terms with the terror attack. Most of the bodies were taken to J J hospital for post-mortem, which had been delayed as the morgues in the South Mumbai government hospital were full.

Surgeons from another government hospital were in Oberoi-Trident to examine bodies and attend to injured.

Jewish Center Stormed:

With a helicopter hovering overhead, Indian commandos on Friday morning stormed the Chabad-Lubavitch Jewish center in Mumbai where hostages had been held since it was seized Wednesday by seaborne terrorists.

Moshe Holtzberg, who turns 2 on Saturday, was spirited out of the besieged center on Thursday. His parents, Gavriel and Rivka Holtzberg of Brooklyn, who ran the center, were reported killed.

In the end, six of the hostages were killed, including the Brooklyn couple who operated the center.

As the thump of explosions and rattle of automatic weapons shook the six-story white building, blue-clad commandos slid down ropes from a helicopter to the roof and battled their way inside, according to witnesses.

Thoughout the day, gun battles raged in the building, Nariman House, and Reuters reported that the commandos had blown a breach in an outer wall. Late in the day, black-uniformed Indian reinforcements moved in, and a van with six medics in surgical gowns and masks was parked close by, apparently in anticipation of casualties.

Israeli officials and Lubavitch elders confirmed later that six hostages were found dead inside. They were Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg, 29, of Brooklyn, and his Israeli wife, Rivka, 28, the Lubavitch emissaries in Mumbai who ran Nariman House; another rabbi from Brooklyn who was living in Israel, Leibish Teitelbaum; Bentzion Chroman, an Israeli with dual American citizenship; an unidentified Israeli woman; and another unidentified woman, according to Rabbi Zalman Shmotkin, a Lubavitch spokesman in Brooklyn, and The Associated Press.

In an earlier rescue that Lubavitch rabbis called heroic, the Holtzbergs’ toddler son, Moshe, who turns 2 on Saturday, was spirited out of the besieged house by the family’s nanny.

Officials in Israel offered additional details on Friday. Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni told Israel radio that the terrorists had prepared for an advance by commandos and had set up an ambush inside the house.

When word of the terrorist attacks reached Brooklyn, officials of the Lubavitch Hasidic movement, which operates about 3,500 Jewish centers worldwide in 72 countries, mobilized at their headquarters on Eastern Parkway to secure information and issue calls for prayer for the safety of the hostages.

But shortly before 1 p.m. on Friday, Rabbi Yehuda Krinsky, the group’s chairman of educational and social services, announced, “We have just received news confirming the brutal murder of two of our finest.”

There were no immediate details on how and when Rabbi Holtzberg and his wife had died, officials said. But Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky, the group’s vice chairman of education, said Rabbi Holtzberg was last heard from on Wednesday when he telephoned the Israeli Consulate in Mumbai, saying in Hebrew, “The situation is not good.” The line then went dead.

Rabbi Kotlarsky called the couple “very, very special people,” and choked back tears.

The Holtzbergs, who were married in Israel before moving to Mumbai in 2003, were no strangers to hardship and heartbreak, friends said. They had a child who died of a genetic illness, and another is seriously ill with the same ailment and is hospitalized in Israel.

Two months ago, a fire damaged the red brick Brooklyn home of Rabbi Holtzberg’s parents, Noah and Freida, said Joel Forta, who had lived next door until the fire forced him out. The rabbi’s father, he said, is a retired shochet, a kosher butcher, who now teaches young men how to slaughter animals according to Jewish law. His mother works six days a week at a store in Borough Park.

The parents had eight children, including Gavriel, Mr. Forta said. Another son, Avraham, he recalled, survived a savage stabbing in Postville, Iowa, in 2000. The assailant, Ronni Kachanes, who had been invited to the Holtzberg home for dinner and attacked Mr. Holtzberg there without apparent reason, was later sentenced to life, court records show.

"Jews will continue to visit India and make more friends across the country," Rabbi Vigler said.

During the past decade India has become a magnet for Jewish travelers and sojourners. There are an estimated 50,000 young Jews living for months in Goa and the Himalayan regions in India. Many of them have left Israel because of the tension triggered by terrorist attacks and the political situation in Gaza and the West Bank. Jewish organisations say 25,000 to 30,000 Israelis visit India every year, many are drawn to the ashrams and a mystical life. Many come for business including diamonds and handicrafts.

The ultra orthodox Jews in the Lubavitch Hassidic movement, which has its headquarters in Brooklyn's Crown Heights that runs the Chabad centres, are also strong believers in mysticism. The Chabad centre in Mumbai not only played host to Jews in general but also sought to offer its own mystical tradition to younger Jews.

The Chabad House in India is one of the 3,500 outposts run by the orthodox sect. There were plans to add several more Chabad centres in India in the next few years.

Outside the Lubavitch world headquarters on Eastern Parkway, former seminary classmates recalled Rabbi Holtzberg fondly.

Rabbi Dovid Zaklikowski, 27, said Rabbi Holtzberg was particularly proud of having recently established a mikvah, or ritual bath, for the 4,000-member Jewish community of Mumbai and of finding ways of keeping a kosher home.

But Rabbi Zaklikowski said: “He was a private individual. He did not say, ‘Oh, I made these great things.’ ”

He said Rabbi Holtzberg built the group’s Mumbai center virtually from scratch, raising money to move from a single room into larger quarters, and finally to Nariman House. The Chabad served as a community center for local and visiting Jews.

Rabbi Menachem Heller, 29, said Rabbi Holtzberg won a national Talmudic recitation competition in high school and traveled to Jerusalem for the international competition, where he came in second.

“This is what he wanted to do,” Rabbi Heller said. “As a youngster he would travel and teach and help people. In such a short time, he did things that people don’t do in a lifetime. Now looking back at what he did, it’s amazing.”

“They say that when God smacks, he smacks in the face, and it’s really true here,” Rabbi Heller said. But he said it was also a good lesson to take advantage of opportunities. “He never wasted any time,” he said. “He was always on the go. Working, studying, building.”

Yaron Levy, 26, a small-business owner, said that Mrs. Holtzberg’s father was one of the first Chabad emissaries in Israel and that she has a brother who also works as an emissary.

Rabbi Krinsky said the Holtzbergs would probably be buried in Israel on Sunday.

He expressed confidence that the attack would not deter Lubavitcher emissaries around the world.

“Nothing deters us,” he said.

How The Attack Was Planned:
Investigators working on the Mumbai terror attack have unearthed vital information about how the terrorists managed to enter Mumbai.

The interrogations of the two arrested terrorists, Abu Ismail and Ajmal Kamal, have revealed that 20 men were involved in the terror attack. While eight terrorists set up base in Hotel Trident and Taj Mahal Hotel, 12 others came to Mumbai in a boat.

Intelligence Bureau officials are trying to verify if the terrorists came in through the Persian Gulf.

The arrested terrorists have revealed that they hijacked two fishing boats and used them to come to Mumbai, armed with guns and ammunition.

He further stated that while one of the boats landed at Cuffe Parade near the fishermen's colony, the other landed at Sassoon dock.

The terrorists had initially planned to send in only one team to carry out the attacks and the other team was to be kept on stand-by.

However, the plan changed at the last minute, and the terrorists decided to execute the terror attacks together, Ismail reportedly told the police.

According to the officials of the Intelligence Bureau, the attacks had been planned in February, and this fact was confirmed by an arrested accused in the CRPF camp attack case. The accused had revealed that a Fidayeen attack had been ordered by the Lashkar-e-Tayiba and the target was Mumbai.

The accused had told the police that the LeT planned to attack the Taj Mahal Hotel and the Bombay Stock Exchange.

During his interrogation, Ismail admitted that he and his associates had undergone rigourous training for this operation, which had been planned meticulously.

Investigating officials are not ruling out the possibility of local elements providing logistical support to the terrorists.

Ismail further told the investigators that the terrorists had undergone extensive training in using AK-47 and grenades at a camp in Pakistan occupied Kashmir.

During the training programme, they were shown the detailed layout of the Taj Mahal Hotel, in order to acquaint them with the topography of the places they would have to attack. After the training at PoK was complete, the entire team was shifted to Karachi, where they received training in sailing as their plan included entering India through the sea route.

Sources: and

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Friday, November 28, 2008

India Under Attack

After going through the news reports on the terrorist attack in Mumbai at various locations, I was just thinking whether we have entered a completely different phase in terror attacks.

Till now, we were getting used only to bomb blasts, thanks to an inefficient Congress Government, we have entered second phase where mindless religious bigots calling for Jihad have started to run on the streets using automatic weapons creating a mayhem.

This is the last thing we need when the economy is down and investor confidence is low. Till now, we thought we were safe but who would expect that terrorists blinded by religious fanaticism would take a speed boat from Karachi (Pakistan) to attack Mumbai.

While ruling party politicians express sadness, opposition politicians shout from the rooftops regarding deteriorating law and order problem and within a week or so, things would be back to normal, waiting for another terror strike.

While the politicians are mostly safe through their Z Plus or Y Plus category of security, it is the common people who are dying on the roads because of the inefficiencies of the politicians they have elected.

The day is not far when people start to hate politicians for what they have done to this country !!

Sametime, we Indians don't even know how to respect the brave under armed and under protected soldiers who have valiantly stood against the heavily armed Islamic terrorists. See what happened to Inspector Mohan Chand Sharma who took three bullets on his chest from the terrorists. Pseudo-secular politicians like Mulayam Singh Yadav, Amar Singh, Lalu Prasad Yadav started crying from the rooftops that it was a fake encounter. It only proves that politicians like these go to any extent to gain a few Muslim votes. These people should never be elected in the first place.

See how the Anti-Terror Squad (ATS) chief, Hemant Karkare was killed. Being the chief of the squad, he had an option to stay back and send in his sub-ordinates. But as a true hero, he led the battle and since he was not provided with / not wearing any bullet proof vests, he was shot dead instantly. So are the encounter specialist, Vijay Salaskar and Additional Police Commissioner Ashok Kamte who were gunned down by the terrorists.

They were not even provided with basic protection gear and how do we expect them to kill the highly sophisticated terrorists ??

To effectively counter the terrorists, we need to have an action plan in place - Do We ?? As a country which is showing 8% growth and which wants to shrug off the "Third-World" tag, is this how we act ?? See how the dead bodies are thrown into the ambulances. Is this the way we take care of the dead ??

As a Nation, we have to change our mindset !! This is the most important thing that is required. We need politicians who are educated enough to understand and analyze the situation - not those who use their caste and religion to garner votes.

The best thing to counter terrorists is to attack them at their home front. I cant stop laughing when India hands over again and again a list of the names of terrorists who are residing in Pakistan during our regular ritual of meeting the Pakistani authorities. We already know that they are incapable of acting on our requests and even if they are, the would not !!

Why not take things into our hands ?? We already have our spies in Pakistan, we have good amount of information on all the terrorists who are on our list. Let's go head with a planned and co-ordinated counter strike. Sametime, we have lot of groups fighting among themselves in Pakistan like, Shias, Sunnis, Ahmedias, Pathans and many more fighting with each other. Let's take this as our advantage and use one against another. Let the bastards kill each other !!

I know that if we kill for example, head of LeT, then another one would be elected as its head. We will kill that person too. These bastards should pee in their pants that if anyone of them is becoming head of this or that organization, they should be ready to face Assassination !!

People might say that the terrorists might plan counter strikes against our Politicians. What is the use of these politicians if they cannot protect their own citizens. Ordinary Indians like me are ready to sacrifice their politicians for the larger good of the Nation !!

Jai Hind !!

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Friday, November 07, 2008

Georgia Cheats The World

There was an interesting article in Newyork Times regarding Georgia saying that it is defending its territory against Russian aggression. This was disputed by the international monitors stationed in the breakaway region of South Ossettia. Here is the original link to the article Georgia Claims on Russia War Called Into Question.

TBILISI, Georgia — Newly available accounts by independent military observers of the beginning of the war between Georgia and Russia this summer call into question the longstanding Georgian assertion that it was acting defensively against separatist and Russian aggression.

Georgia moved forces toward the border of the breakaway region of South Ossetia on Aug. 7, at the start of what it called a defensive war with separatists there and with Russian forces.

Instead, the accounts suggest that Georgia’s inexperienced military attacked the isolated separatist capital of Tskhinvali on Aug. 7 with indiscriminate artillery and rocket fire, exposing civilians, Russian peacekeepers and unarmed monitors to harm.

The accounts are neither fully conclusive nor broad enough to settle the many lingering disputes over blame in a war that hardened relations between the Kremlin and the West. But they raise questions about the accuracy and honesty of Georgia’s insistence that its shelling of Tskhinvali, the capital of the breakaway region of South Ossetia, was a precise operation. Georgia has variously defended the shelling as necessary to stop heavy Ossetian shelling of Georgian villages, bring order to the region or counter a Russian invasion.

President Mikheil Saakashvili of Georgia has characterized the attack as a precise and defensive act. But according to observations of the monitors, documented Aug. 7 and Aug. 8, Georgian artillery rounds and rockets were falling throughout the city at intervals of 15 to 20 seconds between explosions, and within the first hour of the bombardment at least 48 rounds landed in a civilian area. The monitors have also said they were unable to verify that ethnic Georgian villages were under heavy bombardment that evening, calling to question one of Mr. Saakashvili’s main justifications for the attack.

Senior Georgian officials contest these accounts, and have urged Western governments to discount them. “That information, I don’t know what it is and how it is confirmed,” said Giga Bokeria, Georgia’s deputy foreign minister. “There is such an amount of evidence of continuous attacks on Georgian-controlled villages and so much evidence of Russian military buildup, it doesn’t change in any case the general picture of events.”

He added: “Who was counting those explosions? It sounds a bit peculiar.”

The Kremlin has embraced the monitors’ observations, which, according to a written statement from Grigory Karasin, Russia’s deputy foreign minister, reflect “the actual course of events prior to Georgia’s aggression.” He added that the accounts “refute” allegations by Tbilisi of bombardments that he called mythical.

The monitors were members of an international team working under the mandate of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, or O.S.C.E. A multilateral organization with 56 member states, the group has monitored the conflict since a previous cease-fire agreement in the 1990s.

The observations by the monitors, including a Finnish major, a Belorussian airborne captain and a Polish civilian, have been the subject of two confidential briefings to diplomats in Tbilisi, the Georgian capital, one in August and the other in October. Summaries were shared with The New York Times by people in attendance at both.

Details were then confirmed by three Western diplomats and a Russian, and were not disputed by the O.S.C.E.’s mission in Tbilisi, which was provided with a written summary of the observations.

Mr. Saakashvili, who has compared Russia’s incursion into Georgia to the Nazi annexations in Europe in 1938 and the Soviet suppression of Prague in 1968, faces domestic unease with his leadership and skepticism about his judgment from Western governments.

The brief war was a disaster for Georgia. The attack backfired. Georgia’s army was humiliated as Russian forces overwhelmed its brigades, seized and looted their bases, captured their equipment and roamed the country’s roads at will. Villages that Georgia vowed to save were ransacked and cleared of their populations by irregular Ossetian, Chechen and Cossack forces, and several were burned to the ground.

Massing of Weapons

According to the monitors, an O.S.C.E. patrol at 3 p.m. on Aug. 7 saw large numbers of Georgian artillery and grad rocket launchers massing on roads north of Gori, just south of the enclave.

At 6:10 p.m., the monitors were told by Russian peacekeepers of suspected Georgian artillery fire on Khetagurovo, an Ossetian village; this report was not independently confirmed, and Georgia declared a unilateral cease-fire shortly thereafter, about 7 p.m.

During a news broadcast that began at 11 p.m., Georgia announced that Georgian villages were being shelled, and declared an operation “to restore constitutional order” in South Ossetia. The bombardment of Tskhinvali started soon after the broadcast.

According to the monitors, however, no shelling of Georgian villages could be heard in the hours before the Georgian bombardment. At least two of the four villages that Georgia has since said were under fire were near the observers’ office in Tskhinvali, and the monitors there likely would have heard artillery fire nearby.

Moreover, the observers made a record of the rounds exploding after Georgia’s bombardment began at 11:35 p.m. At 11:45 p.m., rounds were exploding at intervals of 15 to 20 seconds between impacts, they noted.

At 12:15 a.m. on Aug. 8, Gen. Maj. Marat M. Kulakhmetov, commander of Russian peacekeepers in the enclave, reported to the monitors that his unit had casualties, indicating that Russian soldiers had come under fire.

By 12:35 a.m. the observers had recorded at least 100 heavy rounds exploding across Tskhinvali, including 48 close to the observers’ office, which is in a civilian area and was damaged.

Col. Gen. Anatoly Nogovitsyn, a spokesman for the Russian Defense Ministry, said that by morning on Aug. 8 two Russian soldiers had been killed and five wounded. Two senior Western military officers stationed in Georgia, speaking on condition of anonymity because they work with Georgia’s military, said that whatever Russia’s behavior in or intentions for the enclave, once Georgia’s artillery or rockets struck Russian positions, conflict with Russia was all but inevitable. This clear risk, they said, made Georgia’s attack dangerous and unwise.

Senior Georgia officials, a group with scant military experience and personal loyalties to Mr. Saakashvili, have said that much of the damage to Tskhinvali was caused in combat between its soldiers and separatists, or by Russian airstrikes and bombardments in its counterattack the next day. As for its broader shelling of the city, Georgia has told Western diplomats that Ossetians hid weapons in civilian buildings, making them legitimate targets.

“The Georgians have been quite clear that they were shelling targets — the mayor’s office, police headquarters — that had been used for military purposes,” said Matthew J. Bryza, a deputy assistant secretary of state and one of Mr. Saakashvili’s vocal supporters in Washington.

Those claims have not been independently verified, and Georgia’s account was disputed by Ryan Grist, a former British Army captain who was the senior O.S.C.E. representative in Georgia when the war broke out. Mr. Grist said that he was in constant contact that night with all sides, with the office in Tskhinvali and with Wing Commander Stephen Young, the retired British military officer who leads the monitoring team.

“It was clear to me that the attack was completely indiscriminate and disproportionate to any, if indeed there had been any, provocation,” Mr. Grist said. “The attack was clearly, in my mind, an indiscriminate attack on the town, as a town.”

Mr. Grist has served as a military officer or diplomat in Northern Ireland, Cyprus, Kosovo and Yugoslavia. In August, after the Georgian foreign minister, Eka Tkeshelashvili, who has no military experience, assured diplomats in Tbilisi that the attack was measured and discriminate, Mr. Grist gave a briefing to diplomats from the European Union that drew from the monitors’ observations and included his assessments. He then soon resigned under unclear circumstances.

A second briefing was led by Commander Young in October for military attachés visiting Georgia. At the meeting, according to a person in attendance, Commander Young stood by the monitors’ assessment that Georgian villages had not been extensively shelled on the evening or night of Aug. 7. “If there had been heavy shelling in areas that Georgia claimed were shelled, then our people would have heard it, and they didn’t,” Commander Young said, according to the person who attended. “They heard only occasional small-arms fire.”

The O.S.C.E turned down a request by The Times to interview Commander Young and the monitors, saying they worked in sensitive jobs and would not be publicly engaged in this disagreement.

Grievances and Exaggeration

Disentangling the Russian and Georgian accounts has been complicated. The violence along the enclave’s boundaries that had occurred in recent summers was more widespread this year, and in the days before Aug. 7 there had been shelling of Georgian villages. Tensions had been soaring.

Each side has fresh lists of grievances about the other, which they insist are decisive. But both sides also have a record of misstatement and exaggeration, which includes circulating casualty estimates that have not withstood independent examination. With the international standing of both Russia and Georgia damaged, the public relations battle has been intensive.

Russian military units have been implicated in destruction of civilian property and accused by Georgia of participating with Ossetian militias in a campaign of ethnic cleansing. Russia and South Ossetia have accused Georgia of attacking Ossetian civilians.

But a critical and as yet unanswered question has been what changed for Georgia between 7 p.m. on Aug 7, when Mr. Saakashvili declared a cease-fire, and 11:30 p.m., when he says he ordered the attack. The Russian and Ossetian governments have said the cease-fire was a ruse used to position rockets and artillery for the assault.

That view is widely held by Ossetians. Civilians repeatedly reported resting at home after the cease-fire broadcast by Mr. Saakashvili. Emeliya B. Dzhoyeva, 68, was home with her husband, Felix, 70, when the bombardment began. He lost his left arm below the elbow and suffered burns to his right arm and torso. “Saakashvili told us that nothing would happen,” she said. “So we all just went to bed.”

Neither Georgia nor its Western allies have as yet provided conclusive evidence that Russia was invading the country or that the situation for Georgians in the Ossetian zone was so dire that a large-scale military attack was necessary, as Mr. Saakashvili insists.

Georgia has released telephone intercepts indicating that a Russian armored column apparently entered the enclave from Russia early on the Aug. 7, which would be a violation of the peacekeeping rules. Georgia said the column marked the beginning of an invasion. But the intercepts did not show the column’s size, composition or mission, and there has not been evidence that it was engaged with Georgian forces until many hours after the Georgian bombardment; Russia insists it was simply a routine logistics train or troop rotation.

Unclear Accounts of Shelling

Interviews by The Times have found a mixed picture on the question of whether Georgian villages were shelled after Mr. Saakashvili declared the cease-fire. Residents of the village of Zemo Nigozi, one of the villages that Georgia has said was under heavy fire, said they were shelled from 6 p.m. on, supporting Georgian statements.

In two other villages, interviews did not support Georgian claims. In Avnevi, several residents said the shelling stopped before the cease-fire and did not resume until roughly the same time as the Georgian bombardment. In Tamarasheni, some residents said they were lightly shelled on the evening of Aug. 7, but felt safe enough not to retreat to their basements. Others said they were not shelled until Aug 9.

With a paucity of reliable and unbiased information available, the O.S.C.E. observations put the United States in a potentially difficult position. The United States, Mr. Saakashvili’s principal source of international support, has for years accepted the organization’s conclusions and praised its professionalism. Mr. Bryza refrained from passing judgment on the conflicting accounts.

“I wasn’t there,” he said, referring to the battle. “We didn’t have people there. But the O.S.C.E. really has been our benchmark on many things over the years.”

The O.S.C.E. itself, while refusing to discuss its internal findings, stood by the accuracy of its work but urged caution in interpreting it too broadly. “We are confident that all O.S.C.E. observations are expert, accurate and unbiased,” Martha Freeman, a spokeswoman, said in an e-mail message. “However, monitoring activities in certain areas at certain times cannot be taken in isolation to provide a comprehensive account.”

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