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Marriott Hotel Bomb Blast

Massive bomb blast hit Marriott Hotel in Islamabad, Pakistan killing at least 60 people

eTN, eTN Pakistan, BBC  Sep 20, 2008

Marriott Statement on Explosion in Islamabad, Pakistan - September 20, 2008, 1:30 PM (ET)
At approximately 7:00 p.m. local time, an apparent car bomb exploded outside of the Islamabad Marriott in Pakistan. The bomb caused extensive damage to the front of the hotel and started a fire. Marriott International and the hotel are working with local authorities and rescue personnel to assist victims. News reports indicate numerous people were killed and injured in the blast. "We live in a dangerous world and this is a terrible tragedy. We grieve for those people who died, or were injured, and their families," said Bill Marriott.
For information on guests staying at the Islamabad Marriott, please contact +1-866-211-4610 or +1-402-390-3265.

At least 60 killed in Marriot Hotel blast in Islamabad on Saturday.

There were conflicting reports on the number of casualties with the local media putting the number of casualties at over 70 people. The Press TV correspondent, however, reported that at least 200 people had been injured and about 300 were believed to be trapped inside the hotel. The Iranian Press TV's office in Islamabad was also damaged by the explosion.

Those killed include five women. 257 wounded, some of them critically were shifted to the local hospitals after the deadly explosion. The death toll is feared to rise further.

The powerful explosion caused fire in many parts of the hotel besides shattering the windowpanes of the buildings around the hotel.

According to details, a small vehicle broke through the security barrier outside the hotel before an explosives laden dumper truck was struck with the hotel causing a huge explosion.

This caused the gas pipelines to burst triggering fire which engulfed the entire building of the luxury hotel.

The explosion left a 20 feet wide and 25 feet deep crater on the ground.

According to police, 1000 kilograms of explosive material was used in the deadly explosion.

This hotel in Islamabad is a favorite place for foreigners to stay and gather, and it has previously been targeted by militants.

Ambulances rushed to the scene, where a fire also burned, smoke hovered and the carcasses of vehicles were scattered.

According to senior correspondent of Geo News, Hamid Mir, about 100 people are feared dead in the attack.

The blast left a vast crater some 20 feet deep and 30 feet wide in front of the main building where flames leapt from the windows and rescuers ferried a stream of bloodied bodies from the gutted building.

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani was hosting an Iftar dinner at the nearby Prime Minister's Secretariat. The event was attended by President Asif Ali Zardari and Army Chief Ashfaq Parvez Kayani. There was no reports of anyone being injured at the Prime Minister's Secretariat.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blast, and its exact cause was unclear. But Pakistan, a U.S. ally in the war on terror, has faced a wave of militant violence in recent weeks following army-led offensives against insurgents in its border regions, though the capital has avoided most of the bloodshed

BBC reports:
A massive bomb blast has hit the Marriott Hotel in Pakistan's capital, Islamabad, killing at least 40 people.

The hotel's owner said the explosion occurred when a lorry, which was being checked by security staff and sniffer dogs blew up at the hotel's entrance.
The blast created a 20ft (6m) deep crater, and destroyed the entire front section of the hotel.

President Asif Ali Zardari condemned the attack and vowed to "continue to fight terrorism and extremism".

In a statement, he said: "Such dastardly acts cannot dent the government's commitment to fight this menace."

The explosion - a suspected suicide bombing - is thought to have been caused by more than a tonne of explosives and police are warning that the hotel could collapse.

The BBC's defence and security correspondent, Rob Watson, says that the attack bears the hallmarks of al-Qaeda, given the scale, the target and what would appear to be the careful political timing involved.

The attack came just hours after the newly elected President Zardari had given his first speech to MPs, vowing not to allow Pakistan's territory to be violated by terrorists or foreign powers fighting them.

Our correspondent says the attack is without doubt the most serious in the Pakistani capital to date and will spark fears about the country's stability in the face of a growing Islamist insurgency.

Heavy security
A huge area of the 315-room hotel remained on fire hours after the explosion.
The BBC's Barbara Plett, at the scene, said the emergency services were struggling to reach the upper floors of the hotel, where more people were feared trapped.

At least 100 people have been injured in the attack, among them four British citizens as well as Saudi, German, Moroccan, Afghan and US nationals.
A hotel employee, Mohammad Sultan, said he was in the reception when something exploded, forcing him to the ground.

"I don't understand what it was, but it was like the world is finished," he said.
There are reports that at least 200 people were in the hotel's restaurants at the time of the explosion, many breaking their Ramadan fast.

The Marriott is the most prestigious hotel in the capital, and is popular with foreigners and the Pakistani elite.

The hotel is located near government buildings and diplomatic missions, so security is tight, with guests and vehicles subject to checks.

The Marriott has previously been the target of militants. Last year a suicide bomber killed himself and one other in an attack at the hotel.

In an interview with the BBC, Senator Enver Beg, from the Pakistan People's Party, appealed to the international community for help in the struggle against terrorism.
"Pakistan is a frontline country in the war on terror. We are, again, with suicide bombings which are taking place all over the country.

"Our economy is affected because of these terrorist activities. And I think the international community has to come out and help Pakistan to fight against this terrorism," he said.

Pakistan has been a key ally of the US in its "war on terror"
US President George W Bush condemned the attack and said it was "a reminder of the ongoing threat faced by Pakistan, the United States, and all those who stand against violent extremism".

He said the US would "assist Pakistan in confronting this threat and bringing the perpetrators to justice"
UK Foreign Secretary David Miliband called the attack "disgraceful" and said it would reinforce Britain's resolve to fight violent extremism with Pakistan.
Pakistan has been a key ally of the US in its "war on terror", but relations have become strained over tactics.

In recent months Pakistan has voiced growing disquiet over US raids targeting militants in its territory, launched from neighbouring Afghanistan.

Al-Qaeda and Taleban militants based in Pakistan's north-west tribal region have repeatedly carried out attacks across the border in Afghanistan.

Militants have also carried out waves of attacks in Pakistan in recent years.
Just over a year ago, Pakistani army commandos stormed Islamabad's Red Mosque - also known as Lal Masjid - which had been taken over by pro-Taleban clerics.

The operation brought an end to the bloody siege. But Islamist militants responded with a wave of suicide bombings around the country that killed around 1,000 people.

Massive bomb blast hit Marriott Hotel in Islamabad, Pakistan  killing at least 60 people

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