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Islamabad Marriott Hotel bomb blast 20 September – Appeal: Show No Mercy to Terrorists and Their Supporters

Islamabad Marriott Hotel bomb blast 20 September

Appeal: Show No Mercy to Terrorists and Their Supporters

To:
The President of Pakistan
The Prime Minister of Pakistan,
Chief of Army Staff
Chief Justice of Pakistan

In the light of the ongoing terrorist activities by Al-Qaeda, Taliban, Jihadi and sectarian organizations against innocent local and foreign citizens in Pakistan, we appeal you to:

1. suspend all forms of dialogue with any terrorist / violent organization or group;

2. deal with utmost state power (including army, air force and latest weapons) to crush all networks of violence and terrorism in FATA, Swat and all other areas in which terrorists / Jihadis freely operate;

3. set up summary anti-terrorist courts to swiftly deal with and execute those involved in performing or supporting acts of terrorism;

3. arrest and try in anti-terrorist courts all spokespersons/mouthpieces of terrorists including General Hamid Gul, Qazi Hussain Ahmed, Mullah Munawar Hasan, Mullah Liaqat Baloch, Imran Khan, Professor Hafiz Saeed, Javed Ibrahim Piracha, Mullah Sami-ul-Haq, and all other culprits;

4. develop and implement a stiff anti-terrorism code of conduct for media; ban all those TV programs, internet sites and newspapers which are abusing the freedom of press and promoting acts of violence and terrorism in Pakistan (e.g. Auria Maqbool Jan, Irfan Siddiqi, Mushtaq Minhas, Kashif Abbasi, Ansar Abbasi and Hamid Mir);

5. completely reform intelligence agencies in Pakistan including ISI and IB to eliminate any violent, extremist elements presently operating within these agencies;

6. use state power to bring peace to the Kurram Agency and Parachinar, and also suspend the inhuman siege of Parachinar by the Taliban and Al-Qaeda;

6. develop a proactive and empowered regional anti-terrorism coalition including the following members: Pakistan, China, Iran, Afghanistan and India. The USA and Russia may have an observatory role in such a coalition.

We beg you to take these steps without late so that the people of Pakistan and the entire international community could live in peace.

Down with terrorism. Long live Pakistan.

Signed by 1500 citizens of Islamabad and Rawalpindi
Date: 20 September 2008

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Massive Bomb Attack Kills Dozens in Pakistan’s Capital

Explosion Rips Through Marriott Hotel in Islamabad; at Least 40 Dead

By Pamela Constable
Washington Post Foreign Service
Saturday, September 20, 2008; 12:21 PM

KABUL, Afghanistan, Sep. 20 — A massive explosion ripped through the premier hotel in the Pakistani capital of Islamabad on Saturday night, killing at least 40 people and engulfing the building in flames.

Officials said a suicide bomber drove a truck up to the side of the heavily guarded hotel and detonated explosives.

Television footage of the Islamabad Marriott Hotel, located just blocks from many major government buildings, showed flames leaping from almost every window in the five-story hotel and bloodied survivors staggering from the lobby.

There were unconfirmed reports that more than 1,000 people had been inside the hotel at the time of the attack, and police said the death toll was expected to rise. Ambulances and other vehicles ferried dozens of injured survivors away from the scene.

Islamabad has been the site of several other bombings in recent months, including a suicide attack at the Danish Embassy and a planted explosion at a garden Italian restaurant frequented by foreign visitors. But the Marriott attack was by far the most powerful and lethal, even with the final casualty toll unknown.

The bombing came just hours after the country’s newly elected president, Asif Ali Zardari, delivered a maiden speech to Parliament in which he vowed to rid Pakistan of the “shackles of terrorism.”

Zardari and his government face a rapidly growing threat from violent Islamist extremists, especially in the northwest border regions with Afghanistan. The Pakistan army has recently staged several major military operations in that region, and extremists have vowed to retaliate.

“This is a message to the new government that nothing is safe, even in the capital,” one analyst told Al Jazeera cable television, as the network showed live images of flames spreading and black smoke pouring out of the 258-room Marriott.
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Witnesses and residents of the modern, heavily policed capital said they heard and felt the explosion several miles away. The bomber detonated his explosive-laden truck during Iftar, the evening fast-breaking ritual that occurs each day during the holy Muslim month of Ramadan.

Police said the truck used in the attack carried more than one ton of explosives. The blast left a huge crater, more than 30 feet deep, beside the building in the heart of Islamabad.

The hotel, located close to the country’s Parliament, presidential offices, Supreme Court and other major institutions, is the center of the capital’s social and political scene. It is also a longtime favorite of foreign visitors, including businessmen, journalists and diplomats.

Security is always heavy, with all vehicles checked outside the entrance.

Television footage showed the hotel’s elegant stone lobby, known for its 24-hour buffet and constant political meetings, as a charred and collapsed ruin. Dozens of vehicles in the parking lot were twisted hulks of metal. The powerful explosion also ignited rooms on every floor of the hotel, and intense flames roared from dozens of windows into the night. Officials said there was no immediate indication of who was behind the blast, but Islamist militant groups have staged numerous smaller attacks in recent months, and some groups in the country’s volatile tribal belt vowed last week to avenge the Pakistan army’s recent attacks in several tribal districts.

Analysts said the blast was likely to intensify pressure on Zardari’s government to crack down on terrorism, something the Bush administration has also been demanding, The two governments, major allies in the war on terror, have been at loggerheads the past week over U.S. cross-border military raids in pursuit of al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters.

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Daily Dawn

Suicide attack kills dozens in Islamabad

ISLAMABAD: A massive truck bomb devastated the heavily guarded Marriott Hotel in Pakistan’s capital Saturday, engulfing the building in flames, killing at least 40 people and wounding at least 100.

The Marriott in Islamabad is a favorite place for foreigners as well as Pakistani politicians and business people to stay and socialize, despite repeated militant attacks.

The blast left a vast crater, some 10 meters (30 feet) deep in front of the main building, where flames poured from the windows and rescuers ferried a stream of bloodied bodies from the gutted building.

Police sought in vain to shoo away bystanders and reporters for fear of gas leaks and that the building might collapse.

President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani strongly condemned the attack in a statement.

‘This is terrorism and we have to fight it together as a nation,’ Rehman Malik, the head of Pakistan’s Interior Ministry, told reporters at a hospital overflowing with the wounded.

Witnesses and officials said a large truck rammed the high metal gate of the hotel at about 8 p.m. (1400 GMT), when the restaurants would have been packed with diners, including people breaking the Ramadan fast.

Senior police official Asghar Raza Gardaizi said rescuers had counted at least 40 bodies at the scene and he feared that there are ‘dozens more dead inside.’

Associated Press reporters saw at least nine bodies scattered at the scene. Scores of people, including foreigners, were running out _ some of them stained with blood. Witnesses spoke of a smaller blast followed by a much larger one.

A US State Department official using a section of white pipe as a walking stick led three colleagues through the rubble from the charred building, one of them bleeding heavily from a wound on the side of his head.

One of the four, who identified himself only as Tony, said they had begun moving toward the rear of the Chinese restaurant after the first blast when the second one threw them against the back wall.

‘Then we saw a big truck coming through the gates,’ he said. ‘After that it was just smoke and darkness.’

Ambulances rushed to the area, picking their way through the charred carcasses of vehicles that had been in the street outside. Windows in buildings hundreds of meters away were shattered.

Mohammad Sultan, a hotel employee, said he was in the lobby when something exploded, he fell down and everything temporarily went dark.

‘I didn’t understand what it was, but it was like the world is finished,’ he said.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blast.

DawnNews adds; a Danish diplomat and at least three US citizens are among the injured. Casualties were being shifted to the Poly Clinic and PIMS hospitals in Islamabad.

Footage from the channel showed flames rising from several parts of the hotel building; several vehicles were also completely destroyed. The hotel lobby was shown devastated by the blast.

Ambulances and fire brigades were on the scene and the entire area has been cordoned off by security forces. Security has been put on high alert across the country, interior ministry sources told DawnNews.

According to police sources, at least 15 people were trapped inside the burning hotel, and efforts were underway to try to rescue them.

The president and prime minister have expressed deep sorrow and sympathies for the victims and emergency has been declared at all major hospitals. The prime minister has also appealed for blood donations.

Further updates: http://letusbuildpakistan.blogspot.com