ISLAMABAD, Sept 21: Prime Minister’s Adviser on Interior Affairs Rehman Malik has said that Saturday’s blast in Islamabad that claimed 53 lives had links with Waziristan.

A video tape, recorded by a security TV camera of the Marriott Hotel, which was shown at a press conference on Sunday, raised questions about security arrangements made to avert a terrorist attack in the capital’s high security areas.

“It is premature to blame any particular group or individual for the blast but all roads lead to Waziristan,” the adviser said.

The video clip showed a six-wheeler dumper truck hitting a steel barrier at the hotel’s main entrance. The attacker, who could not be seen in the film, opened fire on security guards, forcing them to retreat, and then blew himself up causing a small blast which set the truck on fire.

A number of courageous security guards reappear, one of them with a fire extinguisher who tries to extinguish the blaze but fails. He tries repeatedly to douse flames as traffic is seen on the road. There is no sign of movement in the truck and the footage does not show the massive blast which wreaked the havoc.

Questions have been raised as to how such a huge quantity of highly explosive material (RDX and TNT) could be brought into the capital and then taken to the high security area. And there were only five or six private guards at the hotel gate and no arrangement to put out fire.

“It was the first incident in the capital in which terrorists used RDX and TNT explosives. In all previous blasts the terrorists had used potassium. Aluminium powder used in the explosion caused the fire inside the hotel,” Mr Malik said.

Analysts said the attack could have been averted had the fire on the truck been extinguished before it reached the explosives.

The fire in the hotel, a favourite spot for foreigners and the local elite -- and a previous target of militants -- smouldered till about noon on Sunday.

Mr Malik said the local administration allowed trucks carrying construction material to enter the city after sunset.

Rescue teams searched the charred building room by room in high temperature with some parts of the hotel still smouldering. Officials said the main building could collapse.

The adviser said two Americans and one Vietnamese national were among the dead. Officials said at least 21 foreigners, including Britons, Germans, Americans and Arabs, were among the injured.

Mr Malik said the bomb contained an estimated 600kgs of military-grade explosives as well as artillery and mortar shells. It left a crater 60 feet wide and 24 feet deep.

The adviser called upon the national media not to glorify militants. “They are ferocious people who are killing innocent people, but the anchors, hosts and other media personnel do not condemn them.”

He said a team headed by the director general of the Federal Investigation Agency was carrying out an inquiry.

Replying to a question, Mr Malik vowed that one day the assassin of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto would be presented before the public.

He praised the army and law-enforcement agencies for foiling the designs of over 3,000 militants who had attacked Bajaur. “We launched operations in Hangu and Khyber to restore peace,” he said.

The government announced a reward of Rs10 million for information about Saturday’s suicide bomber. Anyone with information may contact the FIA DG on telephone numbers 111-345-786 or 0302-5115122 or the Islamabad police chief on 051-9261428 or 0300-8507520.

The adviser said the name of the informer would be kept secret and he would be provided full security.

Mr Malik said the government had decided to implement a new security plan in Islamabad to prevent such attacks.

He said closed-circuit cameras would be installed along all main roads and at important points in the capital. They will be linked to a central control room. The task has been given to the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra).

The adviser said the plan approved by President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani would be implemented in a few days.

“All trucks, buses and taxis coming into the federal capital will be monitored thoroughly and police patrolling will be increased.”

Meanwhile, interior ministry sources said the government had decided to intensify operations against militants in tribal areas.

The joint investigation team submitted a report after bomb disposal squads of army and police had examined the site.

According to sources, officials of the US Federal Bureau of Investigation, Central Intelligence Agency and Marines who were staying in the hotel could have been the target of the attack.

Shortly after the blast, well-equipped personnel of US Marines took positions at the place to remove their colleagues, the sources added.

“It is unfair to target thousands of people in a hotel to kill two Americans,” Mr Malik said.

No group has claimed responsibility for the blast.



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