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HuJI behind Islamabad blast, says report
September 22, 2008 18:01 IST
Harkat-ul-Jihad-al Islami, a Pakistani terrorist outfit with close links to the Al-Qaeda [Images], is now suspected to have carried out Saturday's devastating bombing of the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad [Images] which killed 53 people, including four foreigners, a media report said.
So far, the needle of suspicion for the suicide bombing--the deadliest in Pakistan--was on the Pakistani Taliban [Images].
HuJI is known to maintain close links with Al-Qaeda, at whom a finger of suspicion has been pointed by Pakistani experts for the Marriott bombing.
In the massive manhunt launched aftermath of the suicide bombing, investigators said that they believe that the bombers constructed the massive 600-kg truck bomb in the capital, since all lorries entering Islamabad are searched at checkpoints. So the main thrust of the investigators is to locate the 'safe houses' and HuJI and al-Qaeda cells in the capital.
Media reports said that in all probability the bombers could have smuggled explosives into Islamabad in smaller consignments and then constructed the deadly truck bomb. A suicide bomber rammed a truck packed with high intensity explosives, including RDX and TNT, into the main gate of the Marriott on Saturday and detonated the payload.
Asked about the motive of targeting the Marriott, the investigators said the hotel, a favourite with Westerners, is seen as an American symbol and the attack could have been carried out as a retaliation to recent strikes by US-led forces in the border areas of Pakistan.
They also said over a dozen US Marines were staying in the hotel when it was attacked. The intelligence officials said the method of the attack on the five-star hotel and the type of explosives used were similar to four previous suicide car bomb attacks carried out by HuJI operatives in Lahore [Images], Islamabad and Rawalpindi. These were the attacks on the Naval War College in Lahore on March 4, the suicide bombing of the headquarters of the Federal Investigation Agency in Lahore on March 11, the suicide attack on the Danish embassy in Islamabad on June 3 and the twin suicide attacks targeting former President Pervez Musharraf's [Images] motorcade in Rawalpindi in 2003.
In all these attacks, the bombers used vehicles packed with high-intensity explosives. A mix of RDX and TNT, both military grade explosives, was used in the attack on the Marriott. Investigators said a similar mix of RDX and TNT was used in the four earlier attacks by HuJI.
The March 11 bombing of the headquarters of the Federal Investigation Agency in Lahore was following by a near-simultaneous suicide attack on an advertising agency's office in the Model Town area that was confused by the bomber for an undercover office of the Special Investigation Authority. Six suspects of the HuJI, who were arrested after the attack on the Naval War College, were held at the FIA headquarters in Lahore for interrogation by the intelligence agencies.
Agencies investigating these attacks had concluded that they were carried out by HuJi as retaliation for the arrest of its chief Qari Saifullah Akhtar near Lahore on February 26.
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