Pakistan leaders had been due at bombed hotel

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The Independent Online

Pakistan's president and prime minister were due to dine at the luxury hotel destroyed in a weekend bombing but changed their minds at the last moment, it emerged today.

Interior Ministry chief Rehman Malik did not explain why they decided to move to the premier's house on Saturday, but said the decision was kept secret.

Suspicion has fallen on al-Qa'ida or the Pakistani Taliban for the blast at Islamabad's Marriott hotel.

But a spokesman for Pakistan's top Taliban commander said the militant leader played no role in the attack, which killed 53 people at the favourite expatriate gathering spot.

Amir Mohammad, an aide to Pakistani militant leader Baitullah Mehsud, said he was not involved and shared the nation's grief.

Meanwhile investigators continued to search the wreckage.

The attack, whose main victims were Pakistanis, wounded about 270 people. The dead include the Czech ambassador and two US Department of Defence employees.

Khalid Hussain Abbasi, a rescue official, says search teams finished a second round of checks at the gutted hotel today but did not find any more bodies.

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