Peshawar bombing: Pakistan officials ignored warning of hotel threat

June 10th, 2009 - 3:15 am ICT by John Le Fevre  

Peshawar blast at Pearl Continental Foreign nationals are amongst the dead and injured following a massive bomb blast in front of the luxury Pearl Continental hotel in the northern Pakistan city of Peshawar tonight.

At least 11 people were killed and dozens injured when a truck packed with an estimated 500kg (1,100lbs) of explosive and three men approached the main gate and shot security guards before driving inside the hotel compound.

According to police official Liaqat Ali, “they drove the vehicle inside the hotel gates and blew it up on reaching close to the hotel building.”

Eye-witness accounts say the bomb left a large crater and destroyed 53 vehicles in the parking lot, while TV footage suggests part of the hotel was also badly damaged.

Peshawar residents reported windows shattered five kilometers (three miles) away, while other residents reported feeling the blast and seeing the red glow from the explosive blast the same distance away.

The hotel, which is popular with foreigners, government officials, UN staff and dignitaries visiting the North West Frontier Province which borders Afghanistan and the Swat Valley, where the Pakistan military has mounted an aggressive offensive against the Taliban for the last month.

Last March, Afghan terrorist Hijrat Ullah, captured in a commando operation after attacking the Manawan Police academy, told authorities the Pearl Continental Hotel in Lahore was the groups next target.

The Pearl Continental Group is owned by the same group as the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad, which was destroyed in a suicide bombing in September, 2008.

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