Pakistan leaders were to dine at Marriott: Official

September 22nd, 2008 - 6:59 pm ICT by IANS  

Islamabad, Sep 22 (IANS) The entire top leadership of Pakistan was scheduled to dine at the capital’s landmark Marriott hotel Saturday - the night it was devastated by a suicide bomb - but had a narrow escape as the dinner plan was changed, BBC reported Monday quoting officials.The president, prime minister and military chiefs were among others invited to dinner by the speaker of the national assembly but the venue was changed later to the prime minister’s house, barely a kilometre from the Marriott, interior ministry chief Rehman Malik told reporters without saying why the venue was later changed.

“The national assembly speaker had arranged a dinner for the entire leadership - for the president, prime minister and armed services chiefs - at the Marriott that day,” Malik told reporters, adding that it could have been “a great catastrophe” had the original plan remained unchanged.

“The president and the prime minister changed the venue to the prime minister’s house. The function was not held at the Marriott, thus the whole leadership was saved,” Malik told reporters but did not say why the plan was changed.

A suicide bomber tried to drive his explosives laden lorry into the hotel but was stopped at the entry of the hotel by the security personnel when he detonated the explosives Saturday.

CCTV footage of the moments before the blast show a six-wheeler lorry ramming the security barrier at the hotel gate.

The bomb - believed to have been detonated in the lorry - left a six-metre crater.

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