Belfast Telegraph

Monday 28 July 2014

11 killed in terror attack on luxury Pakistan hotel

The wave of violence in Pakistani cities continued last night as militants armed with guns and a large bomb attacked a five-star hotel in Peshawar. At least 11 people were killed and dozens more were injured.

The Foreign Office said a British man had been injured and was receiving hospital treatment.

Police said that gunmen stormed into the Pearl Continental hotel, one of the few places in the city used by Westerners, and opened fire before a “big bomb went off”.

TV images showed some of the injured being carried away from the hotel, some on the backs of other people. One reporter said he saw several foreigners with injuries leaving the hotel.

The images showed a scene of chaos outside “PC”, located opposite the provincial legislature of the North-West Frontier Province. The Governor and Chief Minister's offices are also nearby and the area, is where the army is based in the city.

Troops routinely patrol the area, but the police presence was reported to be thin at the time of the explosion.

The PC is a favourite place for foreigners and wealthy Pakistanis to stay and socialise, making it a high-profile target for militants.

Last year, a massive bombing at the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad, also a favourite with foreigners, killed more than 50 people and wounded dozens.

Sahibzada Anis, a government official in Peshawar, said the blast killed at least five people and a local hospital said about 40 people were wounded. Mr Anis said officials were trying to determine if the bomb had been planted or if it was a suicide attack.

Mian Iftikhar Hussain, a spokesman for the provincial government, said they had tightened security in the area, but it was impossible to stop every terrorist. He said that a car laden with explosives had pulled up at the gates of the hotel and exploded.

The bombing is the latest in a flurry of attacks that have rocked Pakistan. Two weeks ago, militants killed at least 30 people and injured hundreds when they targeted police and intelligence offices in Lahore.

A spokesman for the Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud said the Lahore attack had been carried out in revenge for the military operation to drive militants out of the Swat valley and other districts in north-west Pakistan. The spokesman urged residents of Pakistan's main towns and cities to flee, because more attacks on urban centres were planned.

Just a day later, at least 14 people were killed in separate bombings in Peshawar. Since then, there has been a bomb attack on a mosque in the Upper Dir area which killed at least 35 people.

Neither the government of Asif Ali Zardari, nor the Pakistani military, appear in any hurry to halt the operation to drive militants from Swat.

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