Czech Ambassador killed in Pak bomb blast

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{image-pakistan bomb blast_21092008.jpg}Islamabad, Sep 21: The Czech Republic's ambassador to Pakistan was among dozens who killed in Saturday truck bombing at Islamabad's Marriott Hotel, police confirmed on Sunday, Sep 21. In this bomb blast two Americans and a Lithuanian were also among the casualties. Information on the other three foreigners was not available Sunday but a US Embassy spokesman confirmed that all its diplomats were safe.

Ivo Zdarek, 47, had moved to Pakistan from Vietnam a month ago and was staying at the hotel, the Czech News Agency said. It attributed its information to officials at the Czech foreign ministry. He was married with two sons, according to the Web site of the Czech Embassy in Hanoi, where he was most recently posted. Most of the fatalities appeared to be drivers who were waiting with their cars outside the Marriott, and hotel staff -- most of them security guards, Geo TV's Mir said.

Mir said a witness reported seeing the hotel gates rammed open by a small car, followed by a truck carrying explosives, which detonated. Earlier, police had said it was a car bombing. "They were able to come right up to the hotel, close to the seat of power," Mir said.

However, the hotel manager told reporters the blast occurred outside the gates of the hotel. The hotel, where a standard room costs more than $300 per night, is located near the compound that contains the parliament building, the prime minister's house, the Supreme Court and the presidency.

The blast caused a natural gas leak that set the top floor of the five-story, 258-room hotel on fire, police said. The blaze quickly engulfed the entire structure. olice described the blast, which occurred at about 7 30 pm after the breaking of the fast during the holy month of Ramadan, as a vehicle bomb. Trees were felled by the explosion, which occurred hours after newly elected President Asif Ali Zardari addressed a joint session of Parliament and promised to root out terrorism.

The British High Commission in Islamabad said four British nationals were being treated for wounds suffered in the blast. Two dependents of staff members were treated and released. A spokeswoman for the German Foreign Ministry said six Germans in the hotel were slightly hurt in the attack.

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