Death Toll in Peshawar Bombing Reaches 16

The death toll in yesterday’s bomb blast in which a suicide bomber entered a truck replete with explosives through the gates of a five-star hotel in the northwestern city of Peshawar has gone up to 16 while more bodies are being taken out of the debris.

While clearance of wreckage and investigation of the attack is on, a closed-circuit television footage showed two vehicles — a car and a pickup truck — speeding through the security post at the Pearl Continental hotel late Tuesday, taking security guards by surprise.

The footage showed one attacker spray bullets at the guards from the truck before it was blasted. However, it is not known if bullets hit the guards.

According to reports, the explosion, powerful enough to leave a crater 6 feet deep and 15 feet wide, crumpled the western wing of the hotel, one of the few in the city catering to Western visitors.

At the time of attack, the hotel’s registry included officials working for United Nations agencies and other aid groups tending to the large refugee population that has been displaced by the recent fighting between the Pakistani Army and Taliban insurgents.

Rescue workers said that six more bodies were recovered on Wednesday.

According to local news reports, Saddrudin Hashwani, the hotel owner, said that the government should have provided better security and pledged to reopen the hotel in two months.

Hashwani also owns the Marriot Hotel in Islamabad which was the target of a bombing last September which killed more than 50 people. The Marriot reopened recently.

In the Peshawar blast on Tuesday, two foreign United Nations workers were among the dead.

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