Sunday, September 21, 2008

Pakistan's September 11th

So Pakistan's Daily Times bills last night's bombing of Islamabad's largest luxury hotel. While no one has yet claimed credit for the attack, Pakistan (flag at left) has suffered a wave of attacks by Islamic extremists with ties to Al Qaeda. Proof that Karima Bennoune's reminder that such terrorism kills or injures primarily other Muslims, people of Muslim heritage or those living in Muslim countries, this morning's count of 60 dead and 200 injured includes few non-Pakistanis:
At least 200 people, including a PPP legislator, were injured in the massive explosion, which ruptured a gas pipeline and triggered a huge blaze.

A US national was killed and several foreigners were injured, hospital officials told AFP. Many victims leapt to their deaths from the upper floors of the hotel to escape the fire, a senior security official said. Officials were worried that the hotel, a key meeting place for foreigners, would collapse.

Nearby buildings: The explosion was heard throughout Islamabad and left a 25-foot crater. Some of the victims were in the adjacent Frontier House, Chief Justice’s House, IT Towers and the PTV building, which were severely damaged.
Sixteen US nationals were inside the hotel at the time of the attack, an official said, adding they included diplomats. The PIMS spokesman said four Germans, two Saudis and two British nationals were injured. Hotel owner Sadruddin Hashwani told Geo News most of the foreigners were rescued through the rear exit.

The explosion came just hours after newly elected President Asif Zardari's (at right) warning, in reference to the US incursions I discussed last week, that Pakistan "will not tolerate the violation of its sovereignty and territorial integrity by any power in the name of combating terror." The Taliban don't seem to believe he's sincere, given his ties to the US. To mark their opposition to his election, just as Zardari was being confirmed in his new functions, a suicide-attack by members of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, or Taliban Movement of Pakistan killed 33 persons in Peshawar on the Afghan border.

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