Pakistan: Marriott reopens as bomber kills 34
By SEBASTIAN ABBOT,Associated Press Writer AP - 54 minutes ago
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan - A suicide bomber pretending to need help with his car killed 34 people in northwest Pakistan while the target of another recent attack, the Marriott in Islamabad, partially reopened three months after a brazen truck bombing at the luxury hotel left 54 dead.
The Marriott building was badly damaged by the September blast _ blamed on a Pakistani militant group accused of killing U.S journalist Daniel Pearl in 2002 _ but renovations, a security overhaul and the addition of a giant bombproof wall meant the hotel was ready to welcome guests again, the owner said Sunday.
"We have expressed our resolve that we will not bow before the enemies of Pakistan," said owner Saddaruddin Hashwani.
The suicide attack on Sunday, at a polling station close to the Swat Valley, comes amid concern that extremist violence is set to spike now that Pakistan is shifting troops away from the region toward India.
The military has not confirmed the troop movements, but it has restricted military leave and reports said thousands were being redeployed away from the northwest _ where many al-Qaida and Taliban militants are based _ toward the eastern border with India amid tensions over last month's attacks in Mumbai.
India blames Pakistani militants for the slaughter of 164 people in its commercial capital, and it has not ruled out force. But leaders of both nuclear-armed countries insist they want to avoid what would be their fourth war.
Witnesses have reported large convoys moving troops away from the Afghan border in recent days. Two Pakistani intelligence officials said Friday that thousands of troops from the army's 14th Infantry Division were being redeployed from the militant hotspot of Waziristan to towns close to the Indian border. They spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation.
The targeted polling station was located in a school in Buner, a district bordering the Swat Valley, where the Pakistani army has waged an intermittent offensive against militants for more than a year. The explosion wounded 14 people, five of them critically, said police official Beharmand Khan.
"The suicide attacker pulled his car outside the polling station and asked people to push the vehicle, saying that it had broken down," said Mian Iftikhar Hussain, the information minister for the region containing the Swat Valley. "The moment people started pushing the car, he blew it up."
Pakistani Defense Minister Ahmad Mukhtar condemned the attack, saying "cowardice and inhuman acts could not weaken the government's resolve to eliminate the scourge of terrorism and violent extremism."
Associated Press writers Nahal Toosi and Asif Shahzad in Islamabad, Riaz Khan in Peshawar and Bashirullah Khan in Miran Shah contributed to this report.
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