International

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AP/Mohammad Sajjad
Rescuers search for victims among a
partially collapsed hotel after an
explosion in
Peshawar, Pakistan.

Hotel Bombed in Peshawar, Pakistan

June 09, 2009 08:30 PM
by Anne Szustek
Militants bombed the Pearl Continental Hotel in Peshawar, Pakistan. At least 11 people were killed and another 55 sustained injuries.

Bombed Hotel Catered to Western Clientele

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On Tuesday, after shooting at hotel security guards, militants plowed through the gates of the five-star hotel with a truck loaded with explosives. According to The New York Times, local police estimated that “more than 1,000 pounds of explosives were used.” Some 40 cars in the hotel’s parking lot were also destroyed, reported U.K. paper the Daily Telegraph.

“It was a bomb brought in a vehicle in the garb of hotel supplies,” senior police official Abdul Ghafoor Afridi told the Telegraph.

The explosion rendered a six-foot deep, 15-foot wide crater, and transformed the hotel into a cloud of dust and rubble.

Hotel guest Jawad Chaudhry was quoted by The New York Times as telling the Associated Press, “I thought the roof was falling on me … There was blood and pieces of glass everywhere.”

According to the Telegraph, the Pearl Continental was considered the only secure place of accommodation for foreign workers in the unstable northwestern city. Officials told The New York Times that an airline crew and United Nations employees were staying at the hotel. Three foreigners are among the immediate fatalities from the blast. A worker for the UN World Food Program is reported to be in critical condition. Injured Pakistani nationals include a provincial minister and a member of parliament, the Telegraph reports.

Investigators are looking into accounts that gunshots were heard before the blast, according to the Telegraph. Officials are drawing parallels between Tuesday’s bombing and others in South Asia in recent months, notably a blast using about 220 pounds of explosives in Lahore, as well as the attacks at the Taj Mahal hotel in Mumbai last November.

Background: Conflict in Pakistan

The New York Times reports that the bombing in Peshawar is the largest act of violence against a Western target in Pakistan since the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad was bombed in September 2008.

The city of Peshawar is near the Swat Valley, a region that has been under siege in recent months as Taliban militants and Pakistani governmental forces exchange fire. Learn more about the conflict in findingDulcinea’s Web Guide to the Conflict in Pakistan.
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