Pakistan on Sunday blamed Al-Qaeda linked Taliban militants for the massive suicide truck bombing at the Marriott Hotel that killed at least 60 people and injured more than 260.
Dramatic footage of Saturday night's attack showed the carnage could
have been far worse, but the attacker failed to get through a secondary
barrier when he crashed his explosives-laden truck into the hotel's
The interior ministry said the truck was
packed with 600 kilos (1,300 pounds) of explosives, and pointed a
finger at Taliban militants allied with Al-Qaeda who are based in the
remote areas along the border with Afghanistan.
"All roads lead to Fata," ministry official Rehman Mailk told a news
conference, using the acronym for the rugged tribal areas that have
become a safe-haven for militants despite an army campaign to root them
"It has the hallmarks of Al-Qaeda," a senior official
involved in the investigation told AFP. "It was an Al-Qaeda style
Several security officials said at least 60 people
were killed in the carnage . Malik put the number confirmed so far at
53 dead and 266 injured.
Rescuers were continuing to pick
through the rubble of the hotel, which was all but destroyed in the
massive blast -- heard for miles around -- and a subsequent fire that
swept through the 300-room hotel.
Some bodies pulled from the debris were burnt beyond recognition.
Czech ambassador Ivo Zdarek, who was living at the hotel, was among the dead.
The brazen attack appeared to have been timed to inflict maximum
casualties , ripping through the hotel when it was packed with families
having dinner to break the daily fast in the Muslim holy month of
The bombing came on the one-year
anniversary of Osama bin Laden's call for Pakistani Muslims to unleash
jihad or holy war against the government, a vital ally in the US-led
"war on terror".
Closed-circuit footage showed that the
attacker rammed his truck into the gates but failed to get through a
second barrier which is raised again after each vehicle enters the
heavily secured complex.
Malik said the attacker intended to drive right into the lobby of the luxury hotel
. He apparently tried to convince the guards to lower the second
barrier -- and when they would not, he blew himself up in the truck's
The guards then tried to put out
the fire in the truck, and it was several minutes before the second
larger blast devastated the Marriott, which was popular with
politicians, foreigners and the Pakistani elite.
No group has yet claimed responsibility.
But the bombing is a serious challenge to new President Asif Ali
Zardari, who faces a desperate battle against Al-Qaeda and Taliban
militants whose campaign of violence has killed 1,300 people in
Pakistan this year.
"We will rid the country of this cancer,"
Zardari, who took office less than two weeks ago, said in a message to
the nation after the attack. "I appeal to all democratic forces to come
and save Pakistan."
Analysts say the
ability to carry out such a massive bombing at one of the most secure
sites in the capital, not far from parliament and the prime minister's
residence, is an unmistakable sign of the militants' reach.
Zardari's predecessor Pervez Musharraf turned Pakistan into a close
ally of the United States after the September 11 attacks in 2001, and
the government has waged a crackdown on militants in Pakistan's
That campaign has drawn the ire of many in
Pakistan, the world's only nuclear-armed Islamic nation, and critics
say elements of the army and intelligence services are supporting the
Many militants poured into the northwest tribal
areas from across the border in Afghanistan when the United States
invaded after 9/11, and much of the region is now effectively outside
the Pakistani army's control.
The administration of US President George W. Bush
says militants are using the area as a base of operations to lead the
deadly insurgency in Afghanistan, and US forces have fired missiles and
even raided the region.
But even Zardari has warned that US
operations on Pakistani soil are unacceptable. The perceived violation
of sovereignty, and the Pakistan army's campaign against militants,
have infuriated many Pakistanis.
Exactly one year ago on September 20, Bin Laden
called on Muslims in Pakistan "to carry out jihad and fighting to
remove (Musharraf), his government, his army and those who help him."
Zardari left Sunday for New York, where he will meet Bush for the first
time since taking over the presidency. Bush, along with leaders from
around the world, denounced the latest bombing.
is a reminder of the ongoing threat faced by Pakistan, the United
States and all those who stand against violent extremism," he said.