Senior officials at Israel's Foreign Ministry said Thursday that the hostages held by terrorists at the Chabad headquarters in Mumbai may be dead,
as the gunmen holed up at the center urged the Indian government to negotiate with them over the hostages' release.
The remarks came as ongoing terror attacks at ten different locations across Mumbai left at least 125 people dead and hundreds wounded.
According to reports from Mumbai, Indian commandos had circled the Chabad center, where at least eight hostages were believed to be held, and were reportedly preparing to storm the building in hopes of releasing the hostages.
Earlier Thursday, the family of the Chabad rabbi held hostage by the terrorists said that the captives were unconscious.
One of the terrorists holed up at the Chabad headquarters phoned an Indian television channel to say he was prepared to free his hostages if the government agreed to talks.
The family of Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and his wife, Rivki, said they knew nothing beyond reports that the couple's 2-year-old son had been rescued, but eight people in the building were unconscious. The cook at the Jewish center fled the building, holding Moishe Holtzberg in her arms.
"Ask the government to talk to us and we will release the hostages," the militant, identified by the India TV channel as Imran, said, speaking in Urdu in what sounded like a Kashmiri accent.
"Are you aware how many people have been killed in Kashmir? Are you aware how many of them have been killed in Kashmir this week?" he said.
Between 20 to 30 Israelis were also reported to be among the dozens of hostages held by gunmen at the Trident-Oberoi hotel in a separate siege in the city.
Israel's Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said later Thursday "we know that there are Israelis, certainly in the Chabad center and very probably in the Trident hotel."
He went on to say that the Israeli Consulate-General in Mumbai did not have a confirmed number of Israeli hostages, but added that according to various reports, the number ranged from 10 to 14 Israelis.
"At the hotel we don't know. There could be a handful," he added.
He said the Israeli authorities also had no official confirmation that Rabbi Holtzberg and his wife were among the hostages, but added "it's very probable because he was inside the house and we don't know that he came out of the house."
Commandos and militants were battling at that hotel, and at the luxury Taj Mahal Hotel, where scores of people were still trapped.
Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni spoke on Thursday morning with the Israeli consul-general in Mumbai, Orna Sagiv.
Livni received an update of the latest on the situation, though at this time there is no word on whether any Israelis are among the dead or wounded. The Israeli mission is trying to reach all Israeli nationals who are known to be visiting the city.
Indian commando Amit Tiwari said a woman and a child had been released from the Chabad house by mid-morning Thursday, and one of the gunmen had been killed, but at least four armed men remained in the building.
Chabad began to express concern for the welfare of the Holtzbergs, its representatives in Mumbai, shortly after the attacks were launched. Holtzberg holds an American passport and his wife is an Israeli citzen from Afula.
"The Israeli Consulate was in touch with Holtzberg, but the line was cut in middle of the conversation," according to the Chabad Web site. "No further contact has since been established."
The last gunfire around Chabad House in downtown Mumbai was heard around 8 A.M., and a crowd had gathered around the scene of what appeared to be a stand-off.
"It is not clear what the gunmen want," Tiwari said.
Members of the Israeli consulate staff are also conducting searches in Mumbai hospitals for injured or missing Israelis, Israel Radio reported.
Chabad said its personnel are "working closely with the Israeli Foreign Ministry and the U.S. government" to locate missing persons in the area of the Chabad House.
Mumbai's Chabad House is said to be a popular stop for Israeli tourists. The Holtzbergs offer visitors a host of programs, including providing kosher food.