The seconds before a suicide bomber attacked the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad were captured on camera. Dramatic CCTV footage shows the truck bomb arrive at the hotel gate.
Security men start their checks, then the cab catches fire as the driver primes his bomb. There is no immediate panic: the guards are merely tackling a fire. But, seconds later, 600 kilos of explosive would destroy the hotel, killing the bomber, and 53 others.
Police believe the lorry was packed with RDX and TNT high explosive, and with aluminium powder. Aluminium burns fiercely, increasing the ferocity of the blaze.
The Czech ambassador to Pakistan and his Vietnamese partner are among the dead, as are two American Defence Department workers. A Danish diplomat is missing, and five members of a Saudi airline crew.
The bombing came just hours after Pakistan’s new President Asif Ali Zardari denounced terrorists as a cancer sweeping the country. The timing of the attack is surely no coincidence.
Intelligence officials in Washington blame the Taliban for the blast, supported by al Qaeda.