In what can only be seen as further strain of US-Pakistan diplomatic ties, a bomb has ripped through the Marriott hotel in Islamabad. ABC News is reporting:
The Marriott is a favorite place for foreigners to stay and socialize in Islamabad, despite repeated militant attacks. A security guard at the scene, Mohammad Nasir, and several witnesses said a large truck had driven toward the gate before exploding.
Bloomberg News is now reporting that 3 Americans are confirmed dead. I can only infer this number could rise.
A Danish diplomat and three U.S. citizens were among the dead, Dawn News television reported, without saying where it got the information.
Carlotta Gall at the NY Times is now reporting a possibly explosive development:
A huge truck bomb exploded at the gateway of the five-star Marriott Hotel in Islamabad on Saturday evening, just a few hundred yards from the prime minister’s house, where all the leaders of government were dining after the president’s address to Parliament.
She also includes earlier attacks on the five star Marriott going back to 2004:
The Marriott, a favorite place for foreigners to stay and gather, has been attacked by militants at least twice in the past, including a suicide attack in January 2007 that killed a policeman.
This story needs to stay on top of the news cycle this weekend. Looks like the early footage is showing massive damage.
This story needs to be framed as Obama's strentgh of judgement on foreign policy. He has been calling for more attention to that region for 18 months.
There have been escalating tensions for the past few weeks now. From Time magazine's latest isssue:
Pakistan's military and the U.S. forces operating across the country's mountainous border with Afghanistan have become locked into a confusing and potentially dangerous game of brinkmanship over how to fight the al-Qaeda and Taliban militants sheltering on Pakistani soil. U.S. military strikes on Pakistani soil are provoking increasingly strident warnings from Pakistan's military and political leadership, and they are continuing despite Washington's reassurances about respecting Pakistani sovereignty. Still, many believe the Pakistanis are engaged in ritual denunciation of U.S. actions primarily for domestic political consumption.
This follows reports that Pakistan soldiers have been ordered to fire upon any US forces entering the tribal
region of South Waziristan last week. From the AP's article:
Pakistan's army said Tuesday that its forces have orders to open fire if U.S. troops launch another raid across the Afghan border, raising the stakes in a dispute over how to tackle militant havens in Pakistan's unruly border zone.
The AP is reporting that the death toll will rise, as the damage is extensive. Pat Buchanan was on MCNBC and says reports form the scene say this could be an "Oklahoma City like bombing." That's not meant to report a body count, but the strength of what happened today.
Let us all be clear. Obama's position of unilaterally attacking Al Qaeda targets inside Pakistan's border is something that the Bush administration has already been implementing.
In June 2004, Mohammed was killed by a Hellfire missile fired from an unmanned U.S. Predator airplane. Mohammed was hailed as a martyr and his grave has become a shrine. The Pakistan government still tries to keep secret American involvement in his death.
So don't let this phony argument of Obama's position being reckless. We need to flush out those within Pakistan's intelligence community and the ISI.
Joe Biden needs to be all over this on the Sunday talk shows.
This is a massive crater, MSNBC is reporting a 30 foot diamter. Meticulous planning, assistance from within security or police forces almost assuredly.
From the out side of the hotel. This looks like flames have fully engulfed the hotel.
Helping the wounded.