MUMBAI (AFP) - Piracy, infiltration, firing at crowds, using explosives, hostage-taking, suicide missions: the men who attacked Mumbai had learnt every trick in the extremist's handbook, experts say. "It is like during guerrilla warfare," Gerard Chaliand, an independent specialist on asymmetric conflict, told AFP. "Groups learnt from experience and the mistakes of those who had gone before them. "There is a sort of accumulation of knowledge every time," he added, declaring that he was "unsurprised" by the methods employed during the 60-hour attack on India's financial capital between November 26 and 29. "They used every available bit of information and applied it in a rapid manner," he said. "Piracy is not a classic tactic but it has already been used in the southern Philippines" by insurgents, he noted. According to the official Indian version of events, 10 young men trained over the course of 18 months in outlawed Lashkar-e-Taiba movement left Karachi by boat. At sea, they seized an Indian trawler, then made for Mumbai by dinghy before spreading out across the south of the city and launching a series of attacks with automatic weapons, grenades and explosives, officials claimed. Mumbai police chief Hassan Gafoor has described the gunmen as being on a "suicide mission". Nine were killed in battles with Indian commandos. A total of 163 civilians and security personnel also lost their lives. US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, in India and Pakistan this week to try to defuse tensions between the nuclear-armed neighbours, described the attacks as using tactics previously unseen on the sub-continent. "Mumbai was a commando operation bent on mass killing with automatic weapons and explosives," an official at a European anti-terrorism organisation told AFP on condition of anonymity. "This operation marks a hardening and militarisation of the actions used: reconnoitring before attacking, deployment by sea, devastating firepower by several commandos but no negotiations with the state or any demands." According to Indian intelligence sources quoted in media reports last week, accomplices of the assailants had been on a "reconnaissance mission" a month before the attacks. They are alleged to have pretended to be students and said to have even taken rooms in the hotels targeted, leaving behind weapons. But Mumbai police deny any local link or that the attackers had inside help. Chaliand said: "What is particularly remarkable is the scale of the operation, with so many targets attacked in such a short space of time. "It was also a technically successful operation, if one accepts the theory that there were only 10 of them," he added, doubting the police insistence that the attacks were mounted entirely from abroad.