Zardari 'was target of bomb plot'

ITN
Tuesday, Sept 23, 2008

Pakistan's new president could have been the intended victim of a massive bomb.

Investigators are continued to search Islamabad's Marriott Hotel, where at least 53 people died and some 270 people were wounded in the blast on Saturday.

Amongst those killed were the Czech ambassador and two US Department of Defence employees.

Interior ministry chief Rehman Malik said newly-elected president Asif Ali Zardari Zardari, the prime minister and other top government officials were due to dine at the Marriott on Saturday but decided to change venue at the last minute.

But a spokesman for the hotel owner denied this and prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said the bomber attacked the hotel only after security kept him from reaching Parliament and the premier's residence less than a mile away.

The Dubai-based TV channel Al-Arabiya said it had received a tape from a group calling itself "Fedayeen Al-Islam" - Arabic for "Islam commandos" - claiming responsibility for the atrocity and calling on Pakistan to end cooperation with the United States.

The Pakistani government said it expected the investigation would lead to al-Qaeda and Taliban militants on the Afghan border.

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