60 killed, 257 injured in Islamabad suicide attack

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Islamabad, Sep 20 (UNI) At least 60 people were killed and more than 257 injured in a suicide blast outside Marriot hotel in Islamabad tonight, senior police officials said.

Police officials said at least 1,000 kg of explosive material was used in the attack.

Local TV channels reported that four Americans, three Germans and one Danish nationals were inside the hotel when the blast took place.

Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani strongly condemned the blast and reiterated the government's firm resolve to deal with terrorist and extremist elements with iron hand.

The attacker came in an explosives-packed vehicle and hit the main entrance of the Marriott Hotel, police officials told UNI.

The blast caused a 30-foot deep crater and smashed window panes and buildings within a two kilometres radius.

Inspector General Police, Islamabad Asghar Raza said the hotel building, which caught fire after the blast and was badly damaged by the attack, could collapse.

President Zardari, in a statement, said the cowardly act of terrorists would not weaken the government's resolve to firmly and strictly deal with the militant groups, who were bent upon disturbing peace in the country.

He said the government would continue to fight terrorism and extremism in all its forms and manifestations and such dastardly acts would not dent the government's commitment to fight the menace.

The President assured the nation that the government was fully alive to the critical situation and would bring the perpetrators of the heinous act as well as other subversive elements to task.

The President and Prime Minister said the war against terrorism would continue and the government was fully prepared to meet challenges posed by the extremist and terrorist elements.

They expressed deep shock and grief over the loss of innocent lives and said the guilty would not be spared.

The authorities concerned have also been directed to conduct an inquiry into the incident and submit a report within 12 hours.

The two leaders also appealed the public to remain calm and directed the authorities to ensure the safety and security of the people as well as protection of their properties.


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