10 Jun 2009

Taliban blamed for huge hotel blast

9:38 pm on 10 June 2009

Taliban militants are believed to have been responsible for the bombing of a luxury hotel in Pakistan that killed 18 people and injured at least 60 injured.

Three suicide bombers opened fire on security guards and rushed a small truck packed with explosives through the gates of the Pearl Continental Hotel in the northwestern city of Peshawar.

The hotel is in the high-security Khyber Road area of the city. Two foreign citizens - both United Nations workers - were killed and several others were injured.

Fire swept through the building following the blast and a deep crater is reported to be visible outside. Rescue workers are picking over the rubble in their search for survivors.

Intelligence officials say some attackers scaled the wall of the hotel into its compound and opened fire before a big truck-bomb blast in the front car park.

Taliban militants in Pakistan have stepped up revenge bomb attacks since the military launched an offensive in the former tourist valley of Swat and neighbouring districts northwest of the capital in April.

The Pakistani government has condemned the attack and vowed to continue its military campaign.