US Marines may have been target of Marriot attack: Officials

September 21st, 2008 - 12:27 am ICT by IANS  

Islamabad, Sept 20 (IANS) US Marines staying at the Marriott Hotel may have been the target of Saturday’s suicide attack that killed more than 60 people, security officials said.They said that about 30 Marines were staying at the hotel and were scheduled to leave for Afghanistan early Sunday morning.

The Islamabad administration said that 40 people were killed and about 100 injured in the blast but eyewitnesses and hospital sources say that more than 60 people were killed.

One official said that the American security personnel were in Pakistan for the just-concluded visit by the Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Michael Mullen.

But another source said that they had come to Islamabad Friday and were scheduled to leave for Afghanistan on Sunday morning.

“We believe that they can have been the target of the suicide attack,” a senior security official told IANS. Otherwise, “we don’t find any other reason for such an attack”, he added.

The sources said that soon after the blast, US embassy officials reached the spot and were seen looking for the Marines who, according to the sources, were staying on the fourth floor of the hotel which was among the worst affected as the entire hotel turned into a blazing inferno with orange flames and thick smoke billowing out of its windows.

Besides the Marines, the staff of Saudi Airline and a number of foreigners was also staying at the Marriot.

Police sources said that the dead include three Koreans, two Saudis and one American. Among the injured are some foreigners, including some Americans who were shifted to the hospital inside the US Embassy. Unconfirmed reports also said that a senior US security official was among the injured.

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