Islamabad (PTI): Rescuers retrieved more bodies on Sunrday from the burnt-out shell of the bombed Marriott Hotel in Pakistan's capital, pushing the death toll from the country's worst-ever terrorist attack to at least 60, including the Czech ambassador and an American.
The scale of the attack bore tell-tale signs of al-Qaeda network, which is closely linked with the Pakistani Taliban waging a bloody insurgency in the country, US intelligence officials were quoted as saying a day after the massive truck bombing shook the heart of Islamabad.
With some 180 people falling prey to attacks in Pakistan over the past one month, President Asif Ali Zardari on Sunrday vowed to eliminate the "cancer" of terrorism from the country.
At least four more charred bodies were brought out of the gutted five-star hotel on Sunrday as rescuers searched the remains of the smouldering building.
The huge blast, in which officials said about 1,000 kilograms of explosives were used, ruptured gas pipelines and triggered a fire that razed through the five-storey 290-room hotel, popular among foreigners, especially diplomats.
The blaze was brought under control by fire-fighters about 13 hours after the suicide bomber struck at 8 pm last night, when the hotel was packed with guests.
The army joined rescue workers at the site to clear the rubble and to search the building. Officials said it was feared that some more bodies could still be found from the charred rooms on the upper floors of the luxury hotel.
The explosion and the fire injured 260 people, including over 20 foreigners.
The Czech Ambassador to Pakistan, Ivo Zdarek, 47, was among the 60 people killed, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said. Officials at the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences said a US national was among those killed.
A statement issued by the Interior Ministry said two foreign nationals had died and another 21 were injured. The nationalities of the injured foreigners were being ascertained, it said.
A Danish diplomat, several Americans and Britons, three or four Germans and two Saudi nationals were among the injured, Geo TV reported.
Forensic and explosive experts from the army and security agencies scoured through a crater - about 25 feet deep and 30 feet wide - created by the blast outside the hotel in their search for clues.
A joint investigation team headed by the Director General of the Federal Investigation Agency is probing the attack and is expected to submit its initial report within 24 hours.
The government announced a reward of Rs one crore for information about the perpetrators of the attack, believed to be the most devastating suicide bombing witnessed here.
Some reports said a small car rammed into the gate of the hotel minutes before the suicide bomber struck in the truck. However, there was no official confirmation of this account.
The suicide bomber had probably intended to attack Pakistan's Parliament during President Asif Ali Zardari's maiden address there but switched to the 'optional' target after failing to enter the high-security area, officials said.
Rehman Malik, the Prime Minister's Adviser on Interior Affairs, said that authorities had received intelligence reports on Thursday that "some big suicide attempt" would be made on Parliament during Zardari's address on Saturday.
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