Peshawar (AsiaNews) – The latest toll from the suicide bomb attack on the Pearl Continental Hotel in Peshawar is 15 dead and over 75 injured. The blast took place at 22.30 local time: an armed commando shot security guards and then rammed a vehicle packed with 500 kgs of explosives into the building. Among the victims of the attack are three foreigners, two of whom worked for humanitarian organisations and the United Nations.
Sefwat Ghayur, city police chief, has confirmed it was a “suicide attack”. The explosion was heard kilometres away; numerous buildings in the surrounding area were damaged by the power of the blast. An entire wing of the hotel collapsed; a dozen vehicles were destroyed.
Last night’s attack in Peshawar recalls last years’ attack on the Marriot Hotel in Islamabad, in which 50 people died. The bombing has not been claimed so far, but it appears probable that it was the work of the Taliban. Last week the fundamentalist’s leaders had promised a series of attacks on the nations main cities, in answer to the army offensive in the Swat Valley.
Mian Iftikhar Hussain, information minister in North-West Frontier Province (Nwfp), has confirmed the presence of two foreigners among the dead. They are 44 year old Aleksandar Vorkapic, 44 a specialised technician of Serbian nationality and member of the High Commission for Refugees. The second a 52 year Filipino Perseveranda So, of Unicef, who was working on an education program for the children of the zone.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon strongly condemned “the brutal terrorist attack”. President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani condemned the attack and grieved the loss of innocent lives, and resolve to continue the government’s commitment to eradicate terrorism.