Pakistan capital Islamabad was rocked by a massive explosion outside Hotel Marriott yesterday. A truck carrying 1000 Kg (1 ton) of explosive materials entered Marriott Hotel at around 8 PM local time and the driver blew himself up first and then the truck was blown up in a massive explosion. This was the second bomb blast at the hotel in less than a year.
Yasir Khan broke the news at Chowrangi:
“The bomb blast left behind a crater more than 100 feet wide and 20 feet deep with fire and destruction all around it, the intensity of the blast was such that all the buildings within a radius of 500 meters received some damage and was heard all over Islamabad.”
[The blazing Hotel Marriott] Image credit: Saade-e-Shahid
Shahid Javed reports in Saada -e-Shahid:
There were information that such an event was expected yesterday due to which high security was provided around the Parliament House, Chief Minister Secretariat and the Presidency. The suicide bomber found that he was not able to enter these areas so he decided to blast in Marriott Hotel where hundreds of Pakistani and foreign nationals were gathered for the Iftar parties.
CNN has this cctv footage (click the ‘Truck Bombing in Pakistan’ video) which shows that there was a gap of at least 3 minutes between the first explosion and the massive explosion. Asma Mirza and Adil Nazam posts pictures and videos of the blasts in All things Pakistan. The blog also lists the major attacks in pakistan this year.
Hamid Mir at Pak Tea house posts some horrifying accounts of the blasts:
“I was very close to Marriott Hotel and reached the spot within a few minutes of the terrible blast. By that time only a few police constables from the nearby Frontier House and Balochistan House were trying to rescue the drivers who got killed sitting in their cars parked outside the hotel on Aga Khan Road. The road was in complete darkness since the intensity of the blast had destroyed all the street lights.”
Read more eyewitness reports here.
Teeth Maestro has the latest on casualties and reveals the Czech Ambassador to Pakistan was among the victims:
(Czech Ambassador to Pakistan Ivo Zdarek. Image credit: Teeth Maestro)
News reports are tallying the count to be somewhere around 60 dead and over 200 injured. This sadly also includes a few foreigners and the highest dignitary killed yesterday is the Czech Ambassador to Pakistan Ivo Zdarek while his Vietnamese parter is also missing up until now. Ambassador Zdarek had moved to Pakistan a month ago and was staying at the hotel.
Teeth Maestro also reveals that this bombing is not simply as a random attack but possibly an assassination attempt towards the new President:
Pakistan’s National Assembly Speaker Fehmida Mirza was hosting an Iftar dinner reception in honor of President Asif Ali Zardari at the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad, Pakistan, when the hotel was bombed Sept. 20, Pakistani Daily The News reported. Zardari reportedly was not at the dinner, but the report said other important figures were present, without giving names.
The Blog also comments about the blame game:
The overall speculations can blame this attack on any of the terrorist organizations, some find a way to out the finger on the Taliban uprising, some find a way to blame the simmering political unrest while some feel the Indian spy agency RAW might have hand in all this. Whatever be the case Pakistan has suffered.
Raza Rumi at Jahane Rumi is outraged :
What jihad, what Islam and what kind of Muslims these butchers are – they kill innocent people, the underclass outside a posh hotel in Islamabad and think that they are serving some cause.
The blast at the Marriott is being coined, “Pakistan’s 9/11.” Is this finally an admission that Pakistan is caught up in a war that it cannot pawn off as “America’s war?”
On the eve of President Zardari’s visit to New York, this blast serves as a stark reminder that the Pakistani government is on the losing end of a war which is tearing apart the very fabric of Pakistani society
Our society, government, and law enforcement’s complacence is to blame for these tragic events. It may be an individual militant who pulled the trigger, but it is ultimately the state and society as a whole which has given the extremists the power that can bring a city to its knees.
The U.S. apparently comprises Pakistan’s territorial sovereignty with these cross-border incursions. The question is, then, what sovereignty are they referring to? The Frontier and Balochistan have become the preferred destination for extremists from around the world. Why aren’t the government and public up in arms about Pakistan’s sovereignty when it is being breached by extremists?
Who will hold our government accountable?