Saturday, September 20, 2008
The Marriott Hotel in Islamabad, Pakistan was bombed today killing at least 60 people and injuring 120.
The explosion, believed to be a car or truck bomb and heard 30 km (18 miles) away in Rawalpindi, occurred at 8 P.M. PDT (14:00 UTC), just hours after newly elected President Asif Ali Zardari addressed Parliament promising to destroy terrorism in the country.
It is thought that more than a ton of explosives were used in the blast, which left a crater 30 feet deep and triggered a gas leak which sent the hotel up in flames. It is feared that the death toll may go much higher in what is one of the worst terror attacks in Pakistan’s history.
The Marriott is a popular place for foreigners to stay and a prominent enterprise in the city, despite a wave of violence the country suffers.
The hotel had been victim of another attack in January 2007 where a security guard was killed and several people injured after the guard blocked a bomber from getting at the hotel, forcing him to detonate his explosives where he was.
Ambulances rushed to the scene of today’s explosion, where rescuers ferried away the dead. Dozens of vehicles were gutted by fire, nearby trees were knocked down, and windows shattered in buildings hundreds of metres away. Witnesses, including a security guard, described a large truck approaching the building immediately before the explosion.
No-one has yet claimed responsibility for the bombing, but the main suspects are Pakistan Taleban who operate in the north-west of the country.