RAWALPINDI, Sept 22: A last-minute change of venue for an Iftar-dinner saved the country’s top leadership from the suicide blast which devastated the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad on Saturday, Prime Minister’s Adviser on Interior Affairs Rehman Malik said here on Monday.
He said that the real target of the suicide bomber were the president, prime minister and other leaders who were to attend the Iftar originally scheduled to be held at the hotel. However, because of security concerns the event was moved to the PM House.
Mr Malik was talking to newsmen at the Chaklala Airbase while handing over the body of the Czech Ambassador who was killed in the blast, to the Czech authorities.
Ambassador Ivo Zdarek, 47, was recently appointed ambassador to Pakistan and had been living alone at the hotel since his arrival last month.
Mr Malik said that the Iftar-dinner had been given by the Speaker of the National Assembly but the venue was changed because of intelligence reports about a terrorist threat at the hotel. He said a team investigating the case has found some important clues and expressed the hope that the case might be solved in a few days.
While handing over the ambassador’s body, Mr Rehman offered heartfelt condolences to the Czech government
A contingent of Pakistan army presented a salute to the coffin at the airbase. Later the body was flown to Prague.
Mr Malik said he had made surprise visits to six police checkpoints in Islamabad on Sunday night and found the staff sleeping at four points, adding that the policemen posted at the points had been suspended. He said that entry of heavy dumpers in Islamabad had been banned and their owners would be required to obtain permits if they needed an entry.
Meanwhile, six German nationals injured in the bombing were flown to Ankara by a special flight from Chaklala. They are Steinkanp Clemens, Martian Christian, Burge Jasey Walter, Tim Kiabbes Klais, Dieblet Khomas and Scheilel Thomas.
AFP adds: Vietnam confirmed on Monday the death of a Vietnamese woman in the hotel bombing.
“Vietnam strongly condemns the terrorist bombing of the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad… killing dozens of people while hundreds of others have been injured,” said foreign ministry spokesman Le Dung in a statement.
“We would like to send the state, the government and people of Pakistan and the family of the Vietnamese victim our regards and deepest condolences,” he added.
No information was released about the age of the Vietnamese woman or her occupation.