Pakistan rocked as 11 die and dozens are wounded in bombing

Militant gunmen target five-star hotel in Peshawar

The wave of militant violence tearing through Pakistan's cities continued last night as men armed with guns and a huge bomb attacked a five-star hotel in Peshawar. At least 11 people were killed and dozens more were injured.

Among the dead was said to be a foreign aid worker, one of many staying at the hotel. The Foreign Office also confirmed that a British man was among those injured in the blast and was being treated in hospital.

In an incident that called to mind last year's attack on the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad, police said gunmen stormed into the Pearl Continental hotel, one of the few places in the city to cater to Westerners, and opened fire before a "big bomb went off". Reports said several foreign workers from the UN were among the injured while one was killed. Part of the hotel was entirely destroyed while the bomb also left a large crater.

Television images showed chaos outside the hotel, located opposite the provincial legislature of the North-West Frontier Province and close to the Governor and Chief Minister's offices. Armed police stood by as the injured were carried away from the rubble, and moved to a local hospital.

Police official Liaqat Ali said he was told by witnesses three men riding in a truck approached the main gate of the hotel and opened fire at security guards before driving inside. Police suggested up to 500kg of explosives must have been used. "They drove the vehicle inside the hotel gates and blew it up on reaching close to the hotel building," Mr Ali told the Associated Press. The provincial information minister said a UN official had been killed. One of the injured, Jawad Chaudhry, was in his room on the ground floor when he heard gunshots and then a big bang. "The floor under my feet shook. I thought the roof was falling on me. I ran out. I saw everybody running in panic," he said. "There was blood and pieces of glass everywhere."

The bombing is just the latest in a flurry of attacks that have rocked Pakistan in recent weeks. Two weeks ago, militants killed at least 30 people and injured hundreds when they targeted police and intelligence offices in the city of Lahore, utilising tactics similar to those shown last night in Peshawar.

A spokesman for Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud said the Lahore attack had been carried out in revenge for the military operation to drive militants from the Swat valley. The Taliban spokesman urged residents of Pakistan's main towns and cities to flee, because more attacks on the country's urban centres were planned.

Despite the attacks and the warning from the militants of its plan to carry out more revenge attacks, the government of Asif Ali Zardari and the Pakistani military appears in no hurry to halt the operation. Under considerable pressure from the US, the Pakistani military launched the operation in April when a ceasefire agreement with the Taliban broke down.

But the operation has caused about 2.4 million people to flee the conflict areas. Those foreign aid workers caught up in the blast may have been part of the subsequent humanitarian effort. Amjad Jamal, spokesman for the World Food Programme in Pakistan, said more than 25 UN workers were staying at the hotel at the time of the attack.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Project and Quality Manager

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is an independent ...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Sales Executive - OTE £20,625

£14625 - £20625 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This role is for an enthusiasti...

Guru Careers: Financial Controller

£45 - £55k DOE: Guru Careers: A Financial Controller is required to join a suc...

Recruitment Genius: Fertility Nurse

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join the ho...

Day In a Page

Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

Turkish President Erdogan could benefit politically from the targeting of the PKK, says Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: Our choice is years of Tory rule under Jeremy Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

Our choice is years of Tory rule under Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

Yvette Cooper urged Labour members to 'get serious' about the next general election rather than become 'a protest movement'
Singapore's domestic workers routinely exploited and often abused in the service of rich nationals

Singapore's hidden secret of domestic worker abuse

David Cameron was shown the country's shiniest veneer on his tour. What he didn't see was the army of foreign women who are routinely exploited and often abused in the service of rich nationals
Showdown by Shirley Jackson: A previously unpublished short story from the queen of American Gothic

Showdown, by Shirley Jackson

A previously unpublished short story from the queen of American Gothic
10 best DSLRs

Be sharp! 10 best DSLRs

Up your photography game with a versatile, powerful machine
Solved after 200 years: the mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army

Solved after 200 years

The mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army
Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise

Robert Fisk on the Turkey conflict

Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise
Investigation into wreck of unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden

Sunken sub

Investigation underway into wreck of an unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden
Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes

Age of the selfie

Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes
Not so square: How BBC's Bloomsbury saga is sexing up the period drama

Not so square

How Virginia Woolf saga is sexing up the BBC period drama
Rio Olympics 2016: The seven teenagers still carrying a torch for our Games hopes

Still carrying the torch

The seven teenagers given our Olympic hopes
The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis, but history suggests otherwise

The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis...

...but history suggests otherwise
The bald truth: How one author's thinning hair made him a Wayne Rooney sympathiser

The bald truth

How thinning hair made me a Wayne Rooney sympathiser
Froome wins second Tour de France after triumphant ride into Paris with Team Sky

Tour de France 2015

Froome rides into Paris to win historic second Tour
Fifteen years ago, Concorde crashed, and a dream died. Today, the desire to travel faster than the speed of sound is growing once again

A new beginning for supersonic flight?

Concorde's successors are in the works 15 years on from the Paris crash