Pakistan blames al-Qaeda in Marriott blast

Pakistan’s government is blaming al-Qaeda operatives for the deadly Sept. 21 blast at the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad. The attacker failed to get through a secondary barrier when he crashed his explosive-laden truck into the hotel’s security gates, killing 53 and wounding over 250. The bomb went off close to 8 PM, when the hotel’s restaurant was packed with Muslim diners breaking their daily Ramadan fast. The head of Pakistan’s Interior Ministry Rehman Malik said the blast left a crater 18 meters wide and seven deep, shattering the front of the hotel and igniting an intense fire that left the building in ruins.

Malik said the RDX and TNT explosives used were similar those in the al-Qaeda-claimed attack on the Danish embassy in Islamabad in June. The Czech ambassador and two US Defense Department employees are among the dead, and a Danish diplomat is listed as missing. Malik said “all roads lead to FATA” in Pakistani terror attacks—referring to Federally Administered Tribal Areas, where al-Qaeda’s leadership is believed to be hiding. (Australian Broadcasting Corp., AP, Sept. 22) The June 2 attack at the Danish embassy killed eight and injured 12. Most of the casualties were Pakistani security guards. No group claimed responsibility for it. (eFlux Media, June 2)

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  1. USMC targeted in Islama-blast?
    Pakistan’s Dawn confirms Sept. 21 that two US Marines are among the dead in the Islamabad Marriott blast. The Pentagon reportedly told Pakistani TV “the soldiers were deployed in the US embassy in Islamabad.”

    But Pakistan’s The News asks in a Sept. 21 headline, “Was it an attack on US Marines?” The paper sites witnesses, including PPP legislator, who say they saw uniformed Marines unloading a “truckload of steel boxes” into the hotel.

    Both the main gates (the entrance and the exit) of the hotel were closed while no one except the US Marines were either allowed to go near the truck or get the steel boxes unloaded or shift them inside the hotel. These steel boxes were not passed through the scanners installed at the entrance of the hotel lobby and were reportedly shifted to the fourth and fifth floors of the Marriott.

    The paper also notes the blast took place the “same night when Admiral Mike Mullen met Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and others in Islamabad.”