MARRIOTT ISLAMABAD BOMBING
A bomb attack has hit, on Saturday 09/20/2008 evening at about 20:00, the 290 rooms’ luxury Marriott Hotel in the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, killing at least 53 people and wounding at least 270 others. Many of the hotel’s guests are foreign Westerners. Last year a suicide bomber killed himself and one other in an attack at the hotel. Almost all the casualties were Muslims killed by fellow Muslims.
Reporters say that the centre of the blast was at the front of the building close to the area where security checks are carried out. The blast created a 6m’ deep crater, and destroyed the entire front section of the hotel, which indicates that the blast was carried out by a car bomb, most likely driven by a suicide bomber with over one tone of explosive. The attack came at a most busy time when hundreds gathered in the Hotel for the evening dinner ‘Iftar’ after the day fast of Ramadan.
The Marriott is located near government buildings and diplomatic missions. Security there is tight, with guests and vehicles subject to checks.
The attack comes just hours after Pakistan's newly installed President, Asif Ali Zardari, said he would not allow Pakistan's territory to be violated by terrorists or foreign powers fighting them. In recent months, Pakistan has voiced growing disquiet over USA raids targeting militants in its territory, launched from neighboring Afghanistan.
* Among the westerners killed in the bombing there were a German and a USA citizens and the Czech Ambassador Ivo Zdarek .
* According to Pakistani intelligence officials a group of CIA officers stayed in the Marriott Hotel at the time of the attack and it is possible that they were the prime target for the bombing.
* On Monday 09/22/2008 Pakistani officials admitted that Pakistan's top leaders were to have been in the Islamabad Marriott Hotel when it was bombed - but changed venue at the last minute.
* The attackers constructed the 600kg truck bomb at a safe house in the capital Islamabad because vehicles entering the city are subject to routine searches. But it is possible that the explosives used in the bomb could have been sneaked into Islamabad in small quantities from the FATA tribal belt bordering Afghanistan.
* RDX – the explosive was used in the attack, is a modern industrialized substance. Militants in Pakistan only rarely used stolen RDX. There is a question from where did such a large amount of RDX come from?
* Baitullah Mehsud
, one of the leaders of Tehrik-e-Taleban
(the Taliban Way
), the Taliban branch in Afghanistan
, who is the prime suspect in Bhutto assassination
, denied that his group was responsible for the attack. He said that their group does not believe in killing so many local Muslims in the attack. His announcements are regarded reliable.
* On 09/26/2008, Pakistani investigators and intelligence employee named Qari Zafar as the mastermind of the Marriot Bombing after some of his men have been arrested in Punjab. The connection to Qari Zafar was established from phone numbers found on the mobiles of some of those arrested in Punjab.
* Mohammed Qari Zafar, was killed by a UAV missiles attack on Wednesday 02/24/2010 (see - Zafar's Death).
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