A suicide truck bomber exploded just outside Islamabad's Marriott Hotel in Pakistan on Saturday killing up to 60 people - including the Czech ambassador - and injuring at least 200. It also sparked a fire that gutted the building.
Internal security in nuclear-armed
The bombing bore the signs of an attack by al Qaeda or an affiliate, a
It came hours after new President Asif Ali Zardari, widower of assassinated former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, made his first address to parliament a few hundred metres away, calling for terrorism to be rooted out.
The tightly guarded hotel, part of a U.S.-based chain and popular with foreigners, diplomats and rich Pakistanis, was engulfed in flames for hours after the blast.
Zardari made a televised address to the nation on Sunday and said the bombing was cowardly.
"This is an epidemic, a cancer in
Militants have launched bomb attacks, most on security forces in the northwest, in retaliation for the strikes on them.
"They're giving a very clear, unambiguous message that if the government pursues these policies, this is what (they) will do in response," Talat Masood, a retired general and defence analyst, said of the attack.
"They are saying 'we can strike anywhere, at any time regardless of how good you think your security is'," he said.
An al Qaeda video, released to mark the seventh anniversary of the Sept 11, 2001, attacks in the
"You must stand with your Mujahideen brothers in
Saturday's attack was the worst yet in the capital. It came six months after a civilian government took power and a month after it forced former army chief and firm
A crater up to 20 feet (6 metres) deep was in the road in front of the gates of the hotel, which had been bombed twice before. The Interior Ministry said the bomb probably contained more than 500 kg (1,100 lb) of explosives.
Hospitals reported 43 dead and the Interior Ministry said 236 people were wounded. One foreigner was killed, an American, and 13 foreigners were wounded, police and hospital officials said.
The Danish Foreign Ministry said a Danish diplomat was missing and one was wounded. Up to six Saudi Arabians were missing, the Saudi ambassador said.
Flames and smoke poured out of the 290-room, city centre hotel. Dozens of cars were destroyed and windows shattered hundreds of metres (yards) away.
Soldiers cordoned off the area. The fire was put out after six hours and investigators and rescuers were going through the ruins.
A wounded hotel security official said a truck had been stopped at the hotel's security barrier and two small explosions had gone off minutes before the main blast.
The owner of the Marriott, one of two five-star hotels in the capital, said guards at the security gate had exchanged fire with the attacker before he set off the explosives.
Clemens Steinkanp, a German who was slightly wounded, said hotel security men had warned guests to move to the back of the building shortly before the bomb went off.
"Nothing happened for five minutes ... but then there was a huge blast," he said.
Zardari is close to the
"This attack is a reminder of the ongoing threat faced by
In his address to parliament, Zardari said
Zardari, who won a presidential election this month, is due to leave for the
Date created : 2008-09-21